Why the Nuts Aways Rise To the Top

Scientists have finally solved a mystery which has been vexing them for years. That's right, they've figured out what causes the Brazil Nut Effect.

The Brazil Nut Effect, for those of you who haven't been paying attention during breakfast because you're too tired from staying up late watching Politically Incorrect in the hopes that Bill Maher has finally started taking Midol, is the phenomenon that the first person to pour a bowl of muesli gets most of the Brazil nuts while the last person gets a pile of oats. Muesli, in case you were raised on Captain Crunch and Count Chocula, is a whole grain breakfast cereal commonly eaten in Europe which has all the health benefits of granola without any of the taste.

While the Brazil Nut Effect isn't exactly on the same level as other ponderables, such as whether there really is an end to the universe, how Woody Allen can keep making movies when no one goes to see them, and why everyone loves Raymond, it's still important. It must be. After all, scientists first began postulating theories about it way back in the 1930s which, not coincidentally, was the same time they came up with the theory that T=$, better known as Time Equals Money. This direct relationship made them understand that the longer it takes to find a solution to a problem, the longer the grant money continues to flow. Thus, 70 years later they're still looking into the Brazil Nut Effect.

It turns out that the Brazil Nut Effect is caused by smoke and mirrors. Just kidding. Actually, according to an article published in Nature (motto: "100% All Natural"), it's caused by "vibration-induced convection and fluidization, drag by interstitial air, and intruder motion." In other words, smoke and mirrors.

This is actually important stuff. Not only will it help keep the peace in families which for years have been torn apart by unequal morning Brazil nut distribution, but researchers say this discovery could lead to a cure for cancer, cars that go 200 miles on a gallon of gas, and a growth spurt for Gary Coleman. Just kidding again. Actually what it will lead to is yet another cushy government grant to keep scientists in new designer lab coats for a few years. Or maybe pay for a trip or two to Brazil during Carnival so they can find out if indigenous nuts act the same as ones grown elsewhere. Yes, once again I'm realizing that I chose the wrong career path.

Sooner or later though, someone will find a practical use for this scientific breakthrough. They always do. It's this perseverance and ingenuity that separates humans from animals. Well, that and the fact that we laugh at the improvised humor on Hollywood Squares and Whose Line Is It Anyway? when we know they've been scripted by professional joke writers weeks in advance.

Look at previous discoveries. It took years of research before someone realized that aspirin not only stops headaches but also helps prevent heart attacks. For the longest time WD-40 was relegated to loosening nuts and stopping drawers from sticking, then someone finally discovered its true calling: removing those annoying adhesive price stickers from everything you buy. And who would have thought that the rocket fuel byproduct NASA once scraped off the side of their spacecrafts could be packaged, named Tang, and that people would actually buy it?

Thus it should come as no surprise that the Brazil Nut Effect is turning out to be more useful than just an explanation of why the marshmallows in Lucky Charms don't surf along the top of the cereal as you'd expect, meaning all these years you made sure you were the first one to open a new box was a waste of time and you should have eaten your oatmeal like your mother told you to. Not only that, but if you had you wouldn't have been hungry an hour later because, face it, Lucky Charms don't stick to your ribs. They lodge in your thighs.

What it turns out the scientists really discovered was that muesli is a microcosm for life. That's right, it demonstrates how the nuts rise to the top while the flakes sink to the bottom. It's an explanation for why Lyndon Larouche and Ross Perot aren't running our country yet Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi are running theirs. (So what if they're running them into the ground, that has nothing to do with this argument.) It tells us why Rip Taylor is still tossing confetti at the Shriners' convention while Jim Carrey gets $20 million per movie. And it makes it clear why Jerry Falwell gets air time when he claims that terrorist attacks are God's way of saying we've been bad, yet the guy on the corner holding the sign which tells us to repent is still standing on the corner every day.

That's right, the nuts rise to the top while the flakes fall to the bottom. And it happens thanks to "vibration-induced convection and fluidization, drag by interstitial air, and intruder motion." Now I'm dying to find out what wonderful things we'll be able to learn from the recent study which explains why the shower curtain billows in when you take a hot shower.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email: md@maddogproductions.com

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