Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time to Get Your Wrinklon

I've never bought curtains. As far as I can tell, they always come with the house, apartment or condo I move into. On one occasion or another, a girlfriend or roommate of mine may have put in new curtains, but I prefer to attribute such interior design changes to magical curtain fairies. I guess what I'm trying to say is curtain shopping has never really interested me . . . at all . . . ever. Until today, that it is.

The one thing that seems to have been enough to help me overcome my passionate disinterest in curtains is a new concept introduced in a paper published in Physical Review Letters a few weeks ago. In case you don't read PRL, I would like to present to you the wrinklon.

Now, I have to admit that i didn't read the paper too closely, and I am not planning to anytime soon. The APS Physics Synopsis, however gave me plenty of information to send me in search of my nearest curtain store.

Basically, as I understand it, a bunch of physicists looked at wrinkled sheets and developed a theory about a hypothetical, particle-like thing that they named wrinklon. The term hints at the ways wrinklons are analogous to particles like photons, phonons, and electrons. I'm not sure what that means, but they used the concept to come up with an equation that has a characteristic number (which I'm calling the wrinklon exponent) that describes how sheets wrinkle.

A heavy rubber sheet has a low wrinklon exponent of 1/2 or so, and a light sheet may have a high wrinklon exponent of 2/3.

I may have no taste in colors, patterns or fabrics (or so I've been told about a million times), but I know I prefer me some low wrinklon exponent curtains with big, heavy ripples. You might talk me into a some lacy, high exponent stuff over the kitchen window, I suppose, pushing 3/5 at the most, but that's as far as I'll go.

The bottom line is this: physics jargon is fun, especially when wielded against unsuspecting interior designers who are always going on about my tendency to wear plaid shorts with paisley shirts, or to put orange place mats on a blue table cloth. That's all a matter of opinion, while wrinklons are science.

I think I'll head out tonight and get my wrinklon!


  1. as the paper states, i believe there are only two exponents for the two cases (i.e. your desired 3/5 exponent does not exist in nature).

    but. . .i suppose the physical/mathematical misstep may be less important than your attempt at humor.

  2. then again. . .i guess there's some deviation from these two critical values. . .sooooooooooo

    nice joke. eff.