One mundane trick to organize nails

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See also the Brazil nut phenomenon. This is my go-to example when arguing with creationists who claim the Second Law of Thermodynamics would prevent evolution of life. (Or it would be – I don’t actually get into such arguments.)


The lowest energy state for the nails is lying packed parallel. By adding a small (emphasis, small) amount of energy – just enough to get them out of local minima – they eventually line up parallel to each other. Too much energy and they bounce right out to random, though.

Nail sorting machines like the ones that pack (or maybe used to pack) boxes of nails worked the same way – a modest amount of vibration applied to a whole bin.


That’s genuinely supercool and all, but… I am a guy who has some nails, gotta say though it’s not REALLY a huge problem for me that they’re not neatly stacked in cute little piles, like ransom money in a suitcase :slight_smile:


The reversed video doesn’t work - all the movements of the nails lead the movements of the box.


Yeah it seems like they shake in all directions to loosen/unpack then side to side in the direction they want them to lay. That way they hit each other more when they are not parallel. This is sort of similar to why the planets are all on the same plane. Bet this would not work (at least as well) with headed nails.


not for the guy trying to nail a few things together but this is handy if you, say needed to package them in boxes


The brazil nut thing, like those chemical hand warmers, is only counterintuitive based on the popular misunderstanding of thermodynamics, where people don’t get that it only applies to the total system. It’s completely unremarkable for parts of a system to spontaneously become more ordered, even in simple cases like a solution of sodium acetate in water – all thermodynamics tells us is that the entropy must go somewhere else, e.g. by heating up the surroundings.

In the case of biology, the important thermodynamic point is that one tiny part of the sky is very hot, and the rest of the sky is very cold. If the whole sky were as hot as the sun, or as cold as space, then evolution would be a challenge. But as it is, life on Earth can afford to dump unlimited amounts of entropy, so almost anything is thermodynamically possible.

Not that I’d try to persuade creationists of anything, of course. But it’s important to not let them discredit science by spreading their wrong version of it.


Why’s that guy have so many loose nails in the first place?


Yeah I don’t much see why this is useful. When I have to “organize” fasteners it’s cause some one mixed different sizes and types together. I suppose they’re taking up slightly less space in the bins, but the bin is the same size, and you need that’ll size of bin to shake them about.

My dad often buys bulk nails. He’s done a lot of work and extensions on his house and big containers of loose nails were a a real good deal, still has 3 gallon buckets of them hanging around. IIRC they were purchased as buckets.

Can’t put loose nails in a nail gun.

So you need to buy bug bulk contractor boxes of nail strips to replace your buckets of loose nails.

Dad’s got a lotta nails.


Haven’t you ever heard of nail guns? It is his GOD GIVEN right to own as much ammunition as he can store! What are you some kind of COMMIE!?!?


Anyone using loose pin nails for their nailgun is a psychopath who is going to have a jammed gun every other nail.

Finishing nails, tho? I can’t imagine going through a bucket without going nuts. But, upon further examination, it looks like this is a factory or packaging location, given the bin of stacked nails behind this guy.


Except this clip wasn’t reversed, but cool video, thanks.

Why the bleep would you want a nail gun? What have those poor innocent nails ever do to make you think they deserve to get shot?


Yeah, but you don’t need to go through anything provided you don’t mix that shit up. Just grab a handful and throw them in a belt pouch.

If all your finish nails of a given size are in their own buckets, and since they come that way. It’s just a matter of don’t dump them all in the same bucket. It’s not all that different than pulling them from a box.


And as a bonus, you’ve computed an approximation of the value of Pi :exclamation:

(Why don’t we have a Pi emoji?)


Don’t kid yourself Snorky, if a nail ever got the chance he’d eat you and everyone you cared about!


Listening to those arguments, it occurred to me that, based on their misunderstanding of the Second Law, a freezer couldn’t work…


Yeah, by that logic, your back would be the same temperature as your front when you stand in front of a fire.


Great trick.

I note he must have been using his ‘red’ ruler - God forbid he ever uses his ‘blue’ ruler with a red marker pen!!

(Can’t help it - I shudder whenever seeing red marker ink left on the edge of a ruler, ready to infest the next nib used on it.)