Monday, September 8, 2008

It's a Right-Handed World

For those of you who are southpaws out there, you understand what I mean when I say that the world we live in is dominated by right-handers. Just because they make up 90-93% percent of the population, they think they have the right to make life as hard as possible for us lefties.

Now I know there are bunch of you right-handers out there who are saying, "What? we've done no such thing." Well it's time to wake up and face your ruthless bigotry. Here is a list of items and tools designed for use with the right hand, with no regard to the idea that some of us preferentially use our left hands:

computer mouses (mice?)
spiral notebooks
ladles
pencil sharpeners
schoolroom desks
scissors (and don't give me that bullshit about left-handed scissors they used to have in kindergarten. they were vastly inferior: I could have cut a cleaner line with my teeth)
hockey sticks
rotary cheese graters

The list goes on and on.

But this post is not about complaining about our plight. I've long since come to terms with that, only getting on my soapbox about it when I absolutely have to. No what this post is about is that the bigotry and prejudice, it seems, is not restricted to people. It appears that the laws of physics and molecular biology share the same right-handed skew. Check it out:

DNA, the molecule that carries the genetic for every living thing on the planet, forms a right-handed helix. Likewise, proteins form a type of secondary structure called an alpha-helix, which, you guessed it, also happens to be right-handed. Shameful...

Now take a look at physics. You'd think that the science at the root of it all would be a little bit more objective, but no. Many physical phenomena, such as torque and magnetic force on a moving charge obey what is called the Right-Hand Rule. This means that the direction of the torque or force can be determined by curling the fingers in the direction of rotation (as is the case for torque) or from the direction of the charges velocity to the direction of the magnetic field.

Last, and perhaps the most insulting, is that the weak force only interacts with one kind of fermion. And what kind of fermion is that? The left-handed kind of course.

The universe hates us.

3 comments:

Carole Seawert said...

You were lucky to get left-handed scissors at kindergarten! The first item designed for left handers I ever used was a bread knife - and that was about five years ago. It made me realise what I'd been putting up with all these years so now I have all kinds of left-handed implements. Confuses the hell out of my right-handed friends if they try to use anything in my kitchen. :)

Muero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Muero said...

Sorry, but I have to call BS on one of the items in your list: hockey sticks.

In general, right-handed people are more likely to use a "left-handed stick" in hockey, while lefties are more likely to use a "right-handed stick." The nomenclature seems backward, but it's really about which side of your body the blade of the stick is on. Because hockey players often have only one hand on their stick (the top hand), they will usually prefer their dominant hand to be that top hand, which puts the blade of the stick on the left for right-handed people. That's why there are more players who "shoot left" than who "shoot right." But if it were a hard and fast rule, you'd see 90-93% of players "shooting left." In reality, about it's only a 65% to 35% advantage for the "lefty shooters." So while there may be about a two to one chance that any random hockey stick you pick up will be a "lefty", and therefore not what you want (which statistically would be a "righty"), there is plenty of demand for "righty" sticks and you should have no problem finding one. There are literally thousands of professional players who use them.