Matter and Antimatter in the Laundry Room

If you’re a science fiction fan, or merely watched or read some in passing, you may be familiar with the danger of matter and antimatter colliding – an explosion resulting in annihilation. I think the particle physics folks agree this is the case.

Anti-hydrogen captured and annihilating.

They were thrilled when CERN – European Organization for Nuclear Research – trapped anti-hydrogen for 16 minutes in June of this year. Now they can experiment on those little puppies.

But what happens when matter and antimatter collide in the laundry room? We faced that quandary when we found out our apartment’s washing machine also dried the clothes.

No more good ‘ole Washer AND Dryer! Samsung decided to slap the two together into one little box. And this thing has almost as many options and flashing lights as Star Trek’s Enterprise. The manual does cover five languages – English, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish – so you would think everything is clearly explained. Wrong! It was written in Korean before being translated into those languages.

And like software written by Microsoft, this thing wants to think for itself rather than doing what you tell it to do. For instance, from the manual, “It automatically performs an optimal function from washing to drying.”

If it is so automatic, why are there about a thousand options you are encouraged to understand and select? Probably just so the machine can laugh at you and ignore most of your selections. You can set water temperature with digital precision (celsius, of course), determine the RPMs of the spin cycle (1400 max.), the number of times you want to rinse the load (3 max.), and how dry is dry, among other things.

Safety is a big concern with the device and the manual. If the machine thinks it is too hot for a child – literally a child – the door is locked and even an adult cannot open it. The manual takes four paragraphs to discuss, “To reduce the risk of fire or explosion”. Apparently the machine can manufacture hydrogen and as the manual points out in all caps, “HYDROGEN GAS IS EXPLOSIVE”, or as the Swedes would have it, ‘HYDROGENGAS ӒR EXPLOSIVT”. And by the way, “Don’t wash items that have been washed, soaked, or treated with gasoline…”.

It took about an hour and a half to begin our first load of laundry. Marie read relevant sections of the manual. I read the manual. We each reread portions of the manual. Marie read the manual in Swedish. We tried many settings and options. One would have heated the water so hot as to melt most known clothing substances. At critical points the manual was completely vague, “Push the button”. WHICH BUTTON!?

We’ve found one basic formula that seems to work. One load takes only four hours. And the laundry is still not completely dry. So the thick stuff hangs on a drying rack in our living room for a day – our furniture is still at sea on its way to Hamburg before heading North to Sweden, so there’s plenty of space.

And we haven’t even tried to fathom the mysteries of “prewash”.