Albert Einstein Meets The Bowery Boys
IT SEEMS THAT EVERY DAY THERE IS A NEW INVENTION OR DISCOVERY that changes the world. I recently saw that scientists have discovered proof of “Gravitational Waves” that were mathematically theorized by Albert Einstein decades ago.
While that may rattle the tea cups of the scientific world, it really doesn’t impact our daily lives. Gravitational Waves are something on a Cosmic scale that may, at some date in the future, affect how or where people live. But, so far, it doesn’t alter what I’m having for lunch today.
With a minimum of research on my part I have uncovered one of those seemingly “little things” that are almost universally present, yet are virtually unseen. The Toothpick.
Granted, in one form or another, the toothpick has been around since Adam got a bit of apple skin caught between a couple of teeth. Without any floss nearby he probably picked up a twig and went after that piece of forbidden fruit. Not much changed for the next few gazillion years – until 1872.
In 1872 two gents by the names of Silas Noble (Nobody ever names their kids Silas any more.) and James Cooley got the patent for a machine that could mass produce toothpicks. No more whittling toothpicks one at a time. With their new fangled gizmo they could crank out 7.5 MILLION toothpicks from one cord of wood. Given the state of dentistry at that time I would guess that the number of their toothpicks they could make surpassed the number of teeth extant.
They saw a gap in the teeth and they filled it.
This doesn’t compare with the Gravitational Waves thing – unless you’ve just been to the movies and had a tub of popcorn. Then the importance of Gravitational Waves fades quickly into the background because, at that moment, your mouth feels like a garden rake.
The only reason I bring up this whole thing is that I ran into an old coworker yesterday who had a run-in with a toothpick a few years ago.
We’ll call him Einstein for the sake of anonymity in this tale. Einstein was, and still is, one cool dude. You never saw him but he had a toothpick hanging ala James Dean or Marlon Brando from his mouth. Way cool, No?
I was used to seeing Einstein at work every day, working hard, looking cool, and wishing he had a girlfriend named STELLA! And then one day I didn’t see him at work.
“Where is Einstein?” I asked.
“He’s in the hospital. He’s been there for a week. Where have you been that you didn’t know this?”
“I was out looking for Gravitational Waves.”
“You should just leave that to Einstein.”
Anyway – Einstein was in the hospital. It seems that, while he was looking extra cool, he sneezed and swallowed his toothpick. Correction: He PARTIALLY swallowed his toothpick. His toothpick got part way to his stomach and became horizontally lodged in his throat – and hurt like hell on bald tires.
In agony, Einstein was taken to the nearby hospital ER where an X-ray showed only the merest shadow of the toothpick. The immediate concern was that it was cutting into his throat and he was bleeding. Of course, this made infection another concern. However, the Top of the Chart concern was that the toothpick might actually dislodge itself and fall into a lung. Not good.
So, Einstein, the coolest guy since Joe Namath, had to have emergency surgery to remove the toothpick from his throat.
A week later Einstein was back at work, sporting on nasty looking incision on his neck. Decidedly uncool.
So, I salute the scientists who have discovered those Gravitational Waves and, at the same time, I give a nod to Messrs. Noble and Cooley for their toothpick generating machine.
Somehow I bet that Noble and Cooley became richer than the scientists will ever be.