Inhuman Swill : November 2009

We're used to thinking of the movement of an object as homogeneous and instantaneous. In other words, for example, when I give a push to the fat end of my pool cue, the felted end moves at the same time to strike the cue ball.

But I have a question—and I'm asking this because I'm curious about the answer, not because I know the answer. Let's say I had a pool cue that was 186,282 miles long. In other words, light would take a full second to travel from one end of it to the other. So, if I were to give my end of this pool cue a push, would the far end move simultaneously? Or would the motion take something more than a second to propagate along the length of the cue (causing it to ripple, as it were)? Physicists, I'm talkin' to you.

Dear Miz Manorz,

I find myself flush with discomfort, and I hope you'll give my predicament a swirl.

At my shared workspace, a sign over the privy clearly requests that writers of the male persuasion put the seat down when finished, yet at least one of my upstanding colleagues consistently leaves it up. I'm about to flip my lid! It not just the effrontery that peeves me so. It's also the idea that my female colleagues, in toto, might judge me the culprit!

In loo of direct accusation, please advise me how I might call this breach of manners to the men's attention without upsetting the honeypot. Your priceless advice is of the first water, and I would be greatly relieved should you bowl me over with your insight. I can handle it, and I don't want anything to hit the fan.

Signed, Throne for a Loop

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