Dumb hypothesis

by Eva Amsen

Less than three months away from the lab, and already I am completely dumb when it comes to thinking scientifically. I went skiing today. When I returned the rentals after I finished skiing, I had a moment of sheer stupidity.

As I changed back into my shoes, I also changed from my asymmetrical red terry-cloth ski socks with cat print to normal socks.

I couldn’t mention my ski socks without showing them, so here they are. I put on gross socks and hiked up my jeans just to take a picture. That is what I do for you people! Hey, at least my ankles are covered.

The normal socks were white, and I noticed a dark red stain on the first one when I put it on. It looked like blood, so I inspected my foot, but that was fine. “Must be chocolate, then” I hypothesized, even though I didn’t have any chocolate on me.

See? It could be either blood or chocolate.

The second sock had the same stains on them! I looked at the second foot. Ooh! A red thing! Blood? No, it was just a fluff from the red ski sock I had just taken off. Foot was fine. Well, that settled it. It really must have been chocolate. (In retrospect, that also explains why it was on the outside of the socks, even though it didn’t even occur to me at the time that that should have ruled out the “hurt foot” hypothesis.)

I’m such an idiot. I completely bought this dumb chocolate hypothesis. I should have wondered why there was chocolate on clean socks that I just took out of my bag. Where did the chocolate come from? But I didn’t ask such questions. Instead, I vaguely thought “…chocolate…do want…”

I went upstairs to the cafeteria, looked for some people, got in line for hot chocolate, ordered hot chocolate, and grabbed my wallet to pay. As I looked down at my money-handling hands, I noticed what I should have considered minutes ago: my finger was bleeding. Duh.

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Richard P. Grant March 2, 2009 - 5:33 AM

I hypothesize that chocolate deficiency causes dumbness and bleeding fingers in human females.

steffi suhr March 2, 2009 - 5:38 AM

Eva, I _love_ your ski socks.

Sabine Hossenfelder March 2, 2009 - 1:35 PM

Love the pictures!

Eva Amsen March 2, 2009 - 3:25 PM

Richard, I think your hypothesis requires an experiment in which I am given chocolate, to see if the stupid goes away.
Steffi/Sabine, thanks! I got the cat socks from my sister a few years ago. They’re too thick for daily wear (shoes too tight), but I wear them while skiing and ice skating, or when I’m cold indoors.
I also looked at LOLcats a lot this weekend (hmm…maybe _that_ caused the dumbness) which explains that. I even found “one that looks like one of my socks”:http://icanhascheezburger.com/2007/01/21/headcat-is-just-a-head/

Heather Etchevers March 2, 2009 - 4:19 PM

I can just imagine the state of your keyboard, then…

Cath Ennis March 3, 2009 - 12:51 AM

Ha! (And I love your tags).
Awesome socks. My ski socks are mostly blue or green with snowflake motifs – very original, no?

Richard P. Grant March 3, 2009 - 1:15 AM

I think we should write the proposal, Eva.

Eva Amsen March 3, 2009 - 4:29 AM

The budget should cover expensive chocolate. Not yucky Hershey’s, that can’t possibly make me any smarter.
Also, it would be interesting to do an additional experiment on the effect of chocolate with alcohol (brandy beans, maybe).

Henry Gee March 3, 2009 - 5:18 AM

‘Hersheys’ goes with ‘chocolate’ in the same way that ‘girrafes’ go with ‘unicycles’.

Eva Amsen March 3, 2009 - 12:28 PM

Not allowed beyond this point? Yes.

Cath Ennis March 3, 2009 - 2:38 PM

We could do a dosage study. I predict that you will be smartest at 70% cocoa solids.

Richard Wintle March 3, 2009 - 8:31 PM

Good thing the ski socks are asymmetrical. Otherwise you might spend days at a time thinking about which one goes on which foot. Unless you had some chocolate first, of course.
Cath – what’s the LD50 for cocoa solids?

Cath Ennis March 3, 2009 - 9:23 PM

The DF50 for adults is somewhere between 70 and 80%, lower for children.
DF=Disapproving Face.

Eva Amsen March 3, 2009 - 9:26 PM

This brings me back to a time long ago, -in a galaxy far away- on my other blog, when one day, out of the blue, a “mysterious commenter showed up and talked about 85% cocoa”:http://science.easternblot.net/?p=162#comment-1628
(I ought to get that comment signed, now that he’s famous 😉 )

Richard P. Grant March 3, 2009 - 9:47 PM

I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Eva Amsen March 3, 2009 - 10:04 PM


Richard P. Grant March 3, 2009 - 10:05 PM

As ever.

Sabbi Lall March 4, 2009 - 1:22 AM

I’m sorry I am deeply concerned about the bleeding finger/ skiing correlation-I need to know how this happened (though it clearly doesn’t hurt)! On the other hand you get to wear those socks- it would great if they came in a design that matched my cat. Mmmmm…..chocolate.

Eva Amsen March 4, 2009 - 4:50 AM

I think I maybe cut myself when I took the skis inside (there are sharp parts on it) but I was wearing gloves until I took my shoes off, so that doesn’t seem right. Maybe I just scratched myself, and it’s entirely unrelated to skiing.

Richard Wintle March 4, 2009 - 4:30 PM

Proving, once again, what I have said all along – skiing is bad for you.
Fact: ask someone about skiing. The first thing they will tell you is how great it is. The second thing they will tell you is about the incident when they hurt themself really badly.

Cath Ennis March 4, 2009 - 6:05 PM

This will probably doom me to a trip to the hospital on Sunday, but I haven’t hurt myself badly at all (yet). Just sore muscles and some minor bruises. Oh, and a broken phone, which was in my pocket when I fell on it.

Richard Wintle March 4, 2009 - 7:24 PM

“…or their phone”. That’s what I meant.
Good thing it wasn’t an iPhone. With that touch screen, it would probably have telephoned India when you fell on it, or started playing the _Marseillaise_, or something.

Eva Amsen March 4, 2009 - 7:29 PM

I don’t think my tiny cut counts as “hurting badly”. And I was wearing gloves the whole time, so it happened AFTER skiing!

Cath Ennis March 4, 2009 - 7:29 PM

Yes, phones are not carried in pockets any more. We and some friends got some walkie talkies at the end of last season, which have revolutionised a day on the slopes. We already find it difficult to imagine how we ever got by without them, just like I wonder how I ever managed to meet my friends at the right time and place before cell phones.
I have been assigned the call sign “Tinky Winky”, due to the purple fleece mid-layer that my husband bought me for our first Christmas together. Before he knew not to buy me clothes.

Wilson Hackett March 4, 2009 - 8:38 PM

Eva, is that your cat?

Kristi Vogel March 4, 2009 - 8:48 PM

@ Richard – I completely agree wrt downhill skiers, but I wonder whether the same is true for cross-country skiers? Perhaps they’re more inclined to discuss incidents involving windchill factors and frostbite, or getting lost.
Disclaimer: I’ve only ever tried cross-country skiing.

Cath Ennis March 5, 2009 - 2:39 PM

I dunno, I’ve heard horror stories about overnight cross country ski trips that almost ended in -frostbite- certain death.

Cristian Bodo March 5, 2009 - 3:06 PM

_Proving, once again, what I have said all along – skiing is bad for you_
But the same goes for drinking, eating red meat, pulling all nigh-nighters and making acrylamide gels: Avoiding it may extend you life…but is the extra time worth the effort?

Linda Lin March 6, 2009 - 9:49 AM

awwwww, poor cat with the dumb.
…I _must_ have those sox.
@ Cristian, Ethidium Bromide isn’t great either, but i learned from a prof that they used to stick in jello as red food colouring in the 50s.

Richard Wintle March 10, 2009 - 4:11 PM

@Kristi – I’ve only ever cross-country skied too. And snowshoed.

Kristi Vogel March 10, 2009 - 4:17 PM

@ Richard – When I’ve lived in places close to mountains and snow, I couldn’t afford to go downhill skiing. Now that I could possibly afford the sport, I don’t live anywhere near mountains with snow.

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