Rather, what socks are explains their behavior. As recently as 30 years ago, it was assumed dryers erratically connected with a parallel universe and socks went randomly back and forth, most being destroyed somehow in the transfer.

Now, new theory explains why that is not necessarily true — Socks are Fermions:

I have come to the conclusion that socks are fermions, and that this explains much of the behavior of disappearing socks. (There may be other factors at play, of course) Clearly they are not bosons; you cannot make two socks occupy the same space: Put two socks on the same foot and they wll be layered, and there is a finite number you can fit into a washing machine or a dryer. Socks worn in the normal fashion are distinguishable by being on the left or right foot (or hand, in the case of the sock puppet effect; I won’t be discussing the very interesting Lamb-Chop-shift one can observe). The individual socks in a pair, however, are indistinguishable and they must have an antisymmetric wave function and thus obey Fermi-Dirac statistics and follow the Pauli exclusion principle.

Physics may well be on the way to solving this age-old mystery.

This may well explain why I haven’t lost a single sock in six years: the laundry equipment is out in the garage, and adverse climactic conditions (it’s insulated out there, but still we’re talking a range from 35 to 105 degrees) might well retard, or obviate entirely, a sock’s quantum transition into the dreaded Hozone.

Don’t say Hozone… it prohibited!!

I passed this link around, and this comment came back to me:

“Every once in a while when I do wash, I’ll find a sock that I haven’t

worn in years, and was certain had been thrown out. Perhaps pressure

within the same system can allow the restoration of an expelled Fermion

once the particle that once occupied its quantum state has been removed?”

There is a profound sense, of something, in that comment. For years I saved every single single sock. I had accumulated a lawn and leaf trash bag full of them. I was sure the mates would eventually return. I am a very optimistic person.