Dribbling strangers and the Zeno effect

Dribbling on strangers and the ‘Zeno effect’. Skilbey Blogs

Are you the dribbler or the dribbled on?

It’s been witnessed numerous times and experienced first hand by many; a stranger dribbling on the shoulder of another stranger on a train.

And the speed at which the shut-eye, static and upright, slips 80 degrees due east or west, before rapidly descending is funny to watch. Of course, there are times when the plunge can be watched in supreme slow motion with great amusement.

However, recently I watched a slumbering but composed posture in no time at all- I glanced at a newspaper headline and back again- move from 90 to 45, past the respectable Leaning Tower Threshold.

The Leaning Tower Threshold where you can still just about hold your head up high upon leaving the train, as you gracefully wipe away your spindly saliva like an insignificant cobweb.

I didn’t actually see the topple, just observed the result: one minute she was up, the next time I looked, down; a head was resting on the recipient’s satchel. I sensed shock then giggles from other passengers. I guess if the satchel wasn’t there she would have woken up because it was quite some descent.

So I’m thinking, how did that happen and also remembering that childhood game, Peep behind the curtain. You turn away to count then turn back and the group are so much closer to you, somehow? Certainly in this game, not witnessing the actual move can become unsettling

And the response from the unwilling recipient is always the same. It’s the same as when your gorgeous moggie or dog sprawls itself all over you, naturally exercising its proprietary rights and you don’t dare move it, but if you don’t get up now, you risk flooding the bath with that blasted tap running. What a dilemma.

There is a scientific theory called the Zeno effect and a group of researchers have now confirmed this incredible theory: that a system can’t change when you’re watching it.


I certainly think there are many things that just won’t move if you keep on staring at them: the hands of a clock, slugs, flowers opening and closing, and ugh! Something the link mentions, who remembers the Weeping Angels in Dr Who?

If we knew what slobber chops was doing perhaps a supportive gaze from us would have pinned her upright and spared her the embarrassment?

Have you ever dribbled on a stranger?



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