A bit of holiday whimsy …
Last year at this time, I pondered the physics of holiday lights, Maxwell's equations and Kirchhoff's laws. This year, I am considering another, even more vexing issue, one perhaps deeply connected to our elusive quest for a theory of everything. I speak, of course, about deeply subtle, seemingly contradictory and chimercal nature of fruitcakes.
In true scientific fashion, let's start with some observational data
- At least one fruitcake exists (see optical image)
- Evidence of fruitcake production is sketchy and the sample statistics are hotly debated
- Double blind psychological studies suggest humans have a deep fruitcake aversion
Little evidence suggests that any fruitcake has ever been consumed by carbon-based life forms
(Editor's note: Under no circumstances should fruitcake be confused with panettone, a highly edible entity.)
The data raise so many questions, which leads me to hypothesize that fruitcake obeys some yet unexplained variant of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Fruitcake exists in various states and locations, packaged for sale in stores, wrapped for gift giving, even sliced on serving plates, yet we have never seen the wave function collapse, with fruitcake consumed under scientifically reproducible conditions. Perhaps the Copenhagen interpretation of fruitcake mechanics is incorrect and the many worlds interpretation rules. Or just maybe, fruitcake is what really killed Schrödinger's cat.
Equally worriesome, the observed half life of fruitcake is stunningly long, with single instances surviving for decades without preservation. This may explain fruitcake regifting, the practice of recycling an unwanted gift as a gift to another person. Thus, given their long half life, fruitcakes can be re-transmitted repeatedly. This may also explain the lack of fruitcake consumption via conservation of energy. Alternatively, perhaps all fruitcakes are entangled, or maybe this is just an instance of quantum teleportation. I have been searching the arXiv for testable theories, without success.
In this same vein, I have never actually met anyone who likes fruitcake or who admits to making it. Could fruitcakes simply be virtual particles born of the quantum foam? Or, are they simply remnants of the big bang, an artifact of the quark-gluon plasma, visible since the universe became raditionally transparent?
Finally, there is the Fermi paradox of fruitcake. Why have advanced, intelligent aliens not shown up with fruitcake? Or, perhaps they have, seeding the primordial earth with all the fruitcake we see. Could the alien nature of fruitcake explain our aversion and the rise of the Great Fruitcake Toss, related to but not to be confused with the Punkin Chunkin.
Fruitcake – structure, transmission and mediating particles, and ultimate disposiiton. These are deep and vexing questions. All pale, though, in comparison to the ultimate question. Why is there any fruitcake at all?