With an expression of genuine bewilderment and confusion, area man Matthew Kerns’ roommate, Joshua Unger, wondered aloud this week whether it was possible—given the laws of physics, chemistry, and human biology—to do the dishes sometime soon.
Unger, who studies mechanical engineering, reports that he has always been interested in testing limits.
The question of doing the dishes sometime in the near future is just the latest in a series of counterfactual puzzles he’s been wrestling with, including whether it might be possible to turn up the heat, lock the doors, take out the trash, or even to turn the lights off when leaving the house.
“Everything about my prior experience of the world indicates it should be possible,” Unger pondered out loud in the presence of his roommate. “But, knowing what we know about the physical properties of water, soap, dishes, and grease, would it be safe to hypothesize that doing the dishes is within the realm of possibility?”
Unger’s roommate, Kerns, who is almost always around to hear Unger’s verbal meditations on the frontiers of possibility, reportedly regrets that he hasn’t been able to help Unger solve his long list of scientific dilemmas, but explains that he is simply “not up-to- date” on current theories about free will, determinism, and the feasibility of getting off the couch, heading over to the sink, and scrubbing a stack of dirty dishes for a few minutes with a wet, soapy sponge.
“[Unger] is really the more math-and science-oriented guy in this apartment,” said Kerns, “so I’ll leave those big questions up to him.”
At press time, Kerns suggested that Unger try a simple experiment to test his theories, like perhaps attempting to wash the dishes himself.