Finding order in Chaos....

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Every day on my way home from work, I have to wait for a PATH train. When I see a train going in the opposite direction stop across the tracks, my subconscious thinks that means a train going my way is seconds away, so the trains align at the stop. Of course, immediately, my conscious jumps in and points out that as the trains are moving in different directions, they could only align at one point along the route, and there’s not reason for that point to be here. Nevertheless, most of the time, a south-bound train does arrive before the north-bound train leaves. (And my subconscious laughs mockingly at my conscious mind).

A similar instance of things which should be random showing order happens with my gloves. I have seven left-hand gloves at home. One would thing that a person would lose right & left gloves with approximately equal frequency, but I always seemed to lose the right one. Eventually, I realized what was happening. When I wear gloves, I often also wear a wool cap. When I go inside, I’d take off the hat, and then my gloves. Being right-handed, I’d take off the hat with my right hand, and stuff it into my right jacket pocket. Then I’d stuff each glove into it’s respective jacket pocket. So, the left glove had the pocket to itself, while the right glove was on top of the cap, where it was more likely to fall out.

Similarly, it eventually occurred to me why the trains align. You could probably figure it out too. You will need to know a few details about the trains:.

I take the train between 23rd St and Hoboken.

The train takes about 2 minutes to go between stations in NYC, and trains are spaced between 6 and 15 minutes apart depending on the time of day (and that timing doesn’t matter to the answer)

But you will need to know the map of the system, which the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey nicely provide us with here.

(I give my solution in my next post – which hopefully, won’t be too many weeks from now)

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