Monday, July 28, 2008

The Physics of Transitions

Scientiae time!

When I think about transitions, moving jumps immediately into my mind. I hate it. Moving is work in every definition of the word, but I'm a science nerd so I'll stick to the physics.

To begin, we start with packing. Packing is nothing but an attempt to overcome the second law of thermodynamics. My stuff, like the universe, likes to see an ever-increasing amount of disarray. Shoving everything into a combination of bags, boxes and shrink-wrap only stabilizes the gradual decay of order. Packing is a close cousin to cleaning. Moreover, during the moving process these processes often happen in tandem.

Cleaning often is a process that seeks to mitigate the roles of gravity and adhesion. Often times, the process requires brute force. Lifting large bags of assorted moving trash also increases the amount of work done.

However, the overall energy expenditure of the aforementioned activities pales when one considers the stair coefficient. To calculate the stair coefficient, count the number of stairs and divide by 10. A stair coefficient less than 1 can be treated as a kinetic case. Just. Keep. Moving. A stair coefficient greater than 1 should be approached with care. Generally, the number of people capable of doing heavy lifting should match the stair coefficient. Always round up to the nearest whole number.

Time-lapse photography reveals a quizzical nature of conquering the stair coefficient. Generally the presence of any stairs requires a something known as "Going Backwards." Because of the unfortunate center of mass of most large furniture, a push does not equal a pull. At least 2 active agents are required to neutralize this effect. A preliminary sociological study suggests that generally the 2 agents maintain greater cooperation when the "Going Backwards" roles are swapped. Unfortunately, cooperation does not enter into the physics model of transitions, yet time-in-motion studies of the active agents seems to promote the sociological claim.

Owing to volumetric constraints, large stationary items should be located first. In considering furniture placement, an individual must remember that correct placement can reduce the effect of friction and provide for a more ideal transition scenario. However, empirical studies have shown that furniture sliders reduce frictional effects while moving large stationary items.

Unpacking provides a substantial challenge for those transitioning. If one is not careful, the second law of thermodynamics unleashes in full force. Seeing as this can greatly reduce one's ability to maintain laminar flow within a space, most specialists advocate a "plan before opening" to reduce the likelihood of explosion.

What's even more disturbing to me is that I actually think like this while I'm actually moving! Happy Scientiae everyone!


microbiologist xx said...

Moving IS horrible. About 15 minutes into packing I usually get an overwhelming urge to just set everything on fire. I resist the urge, but only because I don't want to get arrested for arson.

Rock Doctor said...

Having moved 3x this past year, I can effectively say you have hit the nail squarely on the head.
And yet, despite all of my distaste for the actual mechanics of moving, I have never regretted any of the several dozen places I have lived. I have great friends and memories in every area of the country and many parts of the world.
But I did adore yourpost, because I cannot help but feel that my as yet unpacked boxes may revert to disorder at any moment, without my consent!

alicepawley said...

I love this post. Although it made me feel guilty as my husband carried most of our boxes up the stairs this weekend...

How do you understand the piano coefficient? :-)

Amanda said...

Ok that made me laugh out loud at the end of this horrible day! Thanks!