Odd Thoughts: Smokers’ heads like wild rocks

Some actions by smokers during the fire season are real head shakers.

There are things – at least a few, maybe a lot – that are beyond the comprehension of ordinary human beings.

At least, they are certainly beyond my comprehension.

Take for instance the strange case of the sinking stepping stones.

You can place flagstones in your garden and they will slowly sinkg out of sight.

You can place them on the hardest piece of ground that you can find in your entire yard, and they will sink into the soil like rock Titanics. They will sink deep into that soil and become a part of the fabric of the earth, deep beneath the plane of your visual or tactile reach, escaping beyond your perception. It may take a few years, but they will disappear.

And you will forget about them… until you rediscover them by happenstance when you break a shovel on them.

But that is not the incomprehensible mystery. After all, however hard the soil you place them on, concrete flagstones are harder, heavier, and more dense than that soil, and so it is natural that they should sink away.

The real conundrum lies within the even harder, denser stones that continually appear on the surface of that selfsame soil. You can pick up all the stones and throw them on a neat pile, and there will always be more to pick up the following day, week, month, year…

What’s crazier still is that your pile of gathered stones will take on the behaviour of domesticated flagstones, and start to sink into the earth beneath them.

Meanwhile, the wild stones beneath your garden and lawn will continue to float.

Why do wild stones float, but sink after you tame them?

And while we’re at it, how can it be that, as a heatwave turns our lawns to kindling, while smoke from hundreds of wildfires all over the province hangs in the air over our heads and in our nostrils, people in passing cars continue to throw their cigarettes into our yards and under our neighbours’ trees?

Physics may not offer an easy scientific answer for the wild stone transition problem, but one of the great minds of that discipline may have given us a clue to the inner workings of the butt-tossing smoker’s brain.

Albert Einstein once commented, “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the former.”

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