A LOT of key questions were answered in the '70s -- questions ranging from the efficacy of test tube conception to the composition of Saturn's rings. But even with all that was learned, a lot of mysteries remained unsolved. Here are perhaps the most perplexing problems -- 10 crucial questions that proved unanswerable in the last decade, and that will likely continue to puzzle researchers for at least the better part of the '80s. l
1. Where is the Dyamite Magnet located?
Television watchers will recall the old Bic commercials, in which a clear plastic pen with a magnified Dyamite ball was rolled across the screen, writing first time, every time. Bic pen users will also recall how long they usually manage to hold on to one of these instruments -- an average, for most people, of about half an hour before it disappears from your shirt pocket or desk top.
But contrary to popular belief, co-workers don't walk off with the pens, nor do they roll behind the furniture. Instead, a giant Dyamite Magnet, buried somewhere in the continental United States -- like a missile in a silo -- is raised each hour from its subterranean vault. All the Bic pens are instantly sucked up by the powerful magnet, which is then moved quickly back underground, where a team of workers retrieves the pens, repackages them and ships them back to the store you just bought yours from.
The company denies the existence of any such magnet, but a check of the world's Dyamite reserves shows that only minute amounts have been mined in the last six years, proving that no new pens have been manufactured, and therefore verifying the existence of the world's best-kept corporate secret.
Indicentally, those who failed to get in on the gold rush might be advised to invest heavily in Dyamite, as prices will undoubtedly soar when the magnet is located and mining resumes.
2. Do all professional athletes hate their fathers?
Every time a camera zooms in on an athlete sitting on the sidelines, he looks into the lens, waves his hand and says, "Hi, mom." Even athletes whose mothers are deceased say, "Hi, mom." Does this have something to do with failure to resolve oedipal complexes? Are all professional athletes, by some strange coincidence, from one-parent homes? Or is it just true that the majority of professional athletes only know how to say "Hi, mom" and "I want to thank my coach"?
3. Since they only account for 3.5 percent of the population, how come 50 percent of the people you meet are from New Jersey?
No matter where you are, whether it be an Odd Fellows picnic in Boise or a night school class in Sarasota, half the people there will invariably hail from the Garden State -- usually northern New Jersey, somewhere around Clifton or Montclair. This could only mean that: a) New Jerseyites travel a lot, while everyone else doesn't; b) 46.5 percent of the population is not really from New Jersey, but secretly wish they were, and say there are; c) residents of the other 49 states have bad luck; or d) the law of averages is a hoax.
4. Where is the Shell Answer Man?
Remember that soft-spoken, personable guy with the glasses who was forever interrupting TV programs with 30 seconds of advice on how to save money at the gas pumps?
Well, oddly enough, as soon as last summer's gas crisis hit -- the time when we needed Mr. Know-it-all the most -- he disappeared from sight, and hasn't been heard from since. Should we assume that an irate motorist, who found some early answers about oil company profits, tracked the poor chap down and took his revenge, or is he holed up in a farmhouse somewhere, perhaps in Pennsylvania, waiting for the U.S. Marines to take over the Iranian oil fields?
5. Is Dick Clark an android?
For more than 20 years, Dick Clark has stood around on Saturday afternoons, first in Philadelphia and now in Los Angeles, introducing rock 'n' roll stars and acne preparations. And in all that time, while the rest of the world was aging and graying and wrinkling, Dick Clark has looked exactly the same. Is he human, or is he an ABC robot? And while we're on the subject, are all those girls in the spotlight dances on "American Bandstand" each week really 16 years old?
6. What is the penalty for pulling that little tag off a mattress, and who has the jurisdiction to arrest you?
No one seems to have any information about this tag, but it certainly opens up a whole array of pertinent questions, such as: What is the purpose of a tag that has nothing on it other than a warning not to remove it? Does the law enforcement agency charged with this responsibility need a warrant to check your mattress? If they need probable cause to raid your bedroom, what constitutes probable cause? Are cleaning women paid informants? Do people who rip tags off mattresses go on to other, more insidious illegal acts, like ripping tags off couches and hide-a-beds? How many college professors did their thesis on this phenomenon?
7. Why is it that no matter what time you bring your car in to be repaired, they finish it at 5?
With a team of 10 mechanics and 50 or so cars to work on in a given day, it would make sense that some autos would be finished at different times. Not so: No matter what time you bring your car in, the service manager tells you to come back at 5, and then calls you at noon to tell you that your car needs additional repairs which will require approximately five hours' labor. Does this mean that instead of waking up two hours early to get your car in by 7 a.m., you can bring it in at 4:45 p.m., and drive home 15 minutes later with all the work done?
8. Do all Howard Johnson's waitresses look exactly the same, or is each person assigned a Ho-Jo's waitress at birth who follows you around your entire life?
It somehow seems odd that you can go into a Howard Johnson's in Burlington, Vt., for a roasted frank on a toasted roll, get back in your car and drive straight through to a fish fry at Ho-Jo's in Richmond, Va., where a waitress who looks exactly the same -- with orthopedic shoes and her hair up in a bun -- will be waiting there to serve you. Either old Howard has a very big family, all of its female members having identical features, or the same weird woman, who has been shadowing you since birth, is right now monitoring your movements, waiting to slip in the back door of Ho-Jo's just ahead of you.
9. Why does the bridge freeze before the roadway?
These warning signs can be found on every highway, but let's face it, they're worthless. First of all, why does the bridge freeze before the roadway? Is it colder on bridges? Is water attracted to bridges? But whatever the answers, the real key, which the signs omit, is this: How long before the roadway freezes does the bridge freeze? If the roadway isn't frozen, how do you know the bridge isn't already frozen until it's too late -- when you hit the ice and slide into the guard rail?
10. Where do socks go that disappear from the dryer?
As everyone knows, it's just not possible to go to the laundromat and return home with a full complement of socks. Most will agree that the dryer, rather than the washer, eats the socks -- and only the ones without holes, and only those that have no mate among other loose socks left over from previous outings. This would indicate that dryers are both nasty and intelligent; or that scientists, who have been reluctant to seriously examine this phenomenon, either have relatives who are sock manufacturers, or enjoy washing their socks at night in the bathroom sink and just don't understand the anguish the rest of us have been feeling all these years. Or maybe it all has something to do with another hidden magnet.