General Question

lillycoyote's avatar

Can anyone explain to me the physics (and chemistry too, I imagine) of things getting stuck in other things?

Asked by lillycoyote (24810points) March 4th, 2010

It just seems that it takes so little effort for something to get hopelessly, or almost hopelessly, stuck in something else and so much effort to get it unstuck. It seems, to this casual observer, that the amount of energy expended in or by the universe in the process of the thing getting stuck, lodged, wedged in, into or between something (s) else is so incredibly disproportionate to the amount of energy that is, or needs to be, expended getting the thing unstuck, dislodged and de-wedged-in. I would imagine surface tension and changes in temperature account for some of it, but not even close to all of it. I’m pretty sure the answer isn’t gremlins or a mischievous and malevolent universe. Really, what’s going on here?

(Smart ass answers welcome after 2:00 a.m. my time, you’ll have to guess)

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12 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

(Oh dear. The temptation offered by the subject line.) I have no idea what you are really trying to ask. It makes little sense.

lillycoyote's avatar

@DarkScribe there is a physics of knots, that has a broad range of applications, is there not? Why not a physics of things getting stuck? It doesn’t seem that hard to understand to me.

Berserker's avatar

I was gonna say something constructive, but then my mind fell in the gutter. It’s stuck in there.

Or at least, more than usual.

Well things get stuck in things and it seems annoying because we don’t want it to happen with stuff we need and all, but things get stuck everywhere alla time, it’s just that we don’t always notice it or perceive it as such, since nobody has any use for a caterpillar with a wasp larvae eating it from the inside out.

Also, it could be fairies. They like to make you drop your toast on the buttered side, so they probbaly get shit stuck in shit just to piss you off.

ChaosCross's avatar

I do believe it would be, if anything, their molecular structure would react and form together in a way if you are talking about something being stuck in a liquid. Otherwise I suppose the objects hook together on a larger scale acting as an anchor of sorts.

Hard to put into words.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It is all about the shape of the surface on a microscopic scale, and how that relates to the friction between it and another object. Try sliding your fingers on your hair towards your scalp. It is far more difficult than away from your scalp, because the microscopic shape of hair favours one direction.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t know, but I agree with you, and I’d like to know too.

Right after that, I want to know how come the color comes out of garment A so damned easily and goes into garment B, and then it never comes out of garment B. If it was going to stay put, why didn’t it stay put in the first place instead of in the second place?

PacificRimjob's avatar

A raccoon (or some other semi cute animal or pet) gets it’s head stuck in a hole.

The region holds it’s breath as it is finally rescued.

This is considered news.

Berserker's avatar

@PacificRimjob That, while a buncha people go and commit suicide, unnoticed.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@Jeruba Garment A would tend to be saturated with dye for color A, yes? While Garment B is likely white or just lightly colored (you’d not notice it otherwise, right?) and therefore not saturated. It is easy for a fabric saturated with a dye to give some up. Not so easy for fabric with just a little dye to give much of what it has up. Much like how getting a little bit of water out of a soaked sponge is much easier than getting the last bits of it out.

@lillycoyote got a specific example? That might help.

mattbrowne's avatar

Dealing with friction means fighting the repulsive effect of the electromagnetic force. A very powerful adversary. Electrons don’t like it when being pushed together too close.

It’s physics, not chemistry.

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