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Sock Cryptography

It just might work...
  [vote for,

Jutta annotated this comment to my "socks" thread:

"Can we use the fact that only one of two socks ever disappears for faster-than-lightspeed communication and cryptography without key exchange?" jutta, Aug 09 2000

I think she's got something here, but I'm not very good at all this programming stuff and so forth, so if anyone has an idea as to how this could be done, annotate away!!!

Furthermore, if anyone out there is mathematically inclined, could we start working on calculating the... thing... not shure what it's called, but like PI, only it's the number that describes the way socks behave. Let's call it the Sock Factor. I think this is the key to key-less encryption, but the whole thing is just out of reach of my intelligence. I'm not afraid to admit that brighter people are needed to solve this very interresting problem.


placebo, Aug 10 2000

"Socks" thread http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/socks
where this whole thing got started... [placebo, Aug 10 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

centre for quantum computation http://www.qubit.org/intros/entang/
Good, if very brief, introduction to quantum entanglement. [egnor, Aug 10 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Where the socks go... http://www.halfbake...ine_20cow_20catcher
mcfrank, if you use the drain filter option in the linked HB idea, you have a mechanism for knowing where they go. [beauxeault, Aug 10 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Lost sock problem solved http://www.appliedt...hts.freeserve.co.uk
Check out this web site for domestic and industrial solutions to the lost sock problem [Applied Thoughts, Aug 10 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       I think you don't get to communicate until you find out where the socks go.. it's sort of like the whole riff on ballpoint pens in Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
mcfrank, Aug 10 2000

       The part about the BYRO planet? =) gotta love that. Although I think you're missing the point somehow. It's not where they go, it's that they go at all... I think. Can't wait to see some more annotations on this most fascinating subject!   

       Also, as soon as someone calculates the Sock Factor, we'll be needing a cool symbol for it, like the PI symbol. Whoever ends up figuring this thing out is going to revolutionize math totally!   

placebo, Aug 10 2000

       I think this can be considered equivalent to spin state "entanglement" of quantum particles.   

       As such, it's not really useful for faster-than-lightspeed communication (because of various dirty tricks the Universe employs to keep us honest), but it is potentially useful for cryptography and quantum computing.   

       I think I'm taking this idea way too seriously, though :). Pretend I made some witty pun about "entanglement" and fabric softener.
egnor, Aug 11 2000

       I think you can use it for faster than sock-speed communication, though.
jutta, Aug 11 2000

       It's the sort of thing that would work well over a sneakernet.
confusionary, Aug 11 2000

       Why is everybody assuming that sock vanishing is a natural phenomenon? If you assume that washing machines are intelligent- and your Uncle Nutsy's sophmore year roommate was routinely outsmarted by major appliances- all sorts of alternate explanations present themselves. In fact, I read somewhere on the Internet- so you *know* it's true- that washing machines are alien infiltrators. Mars needs socks!   

       The indifference of our elected officials to this threat to national sockurity is worrisome. As is the fact that nobody made a "sockure communications" gag yet.
Uncle Nutsy, Aug 11 2000

       People always assume that one sock is missing. Perhaps that's the fatal flaw.   

       *I* think that perhaps socks *appear* one at a time. People think to themselves, "Hey! There's only one of these. Where did the other one go?" and _not_ "Hey, where the hell did this sock come from?"   

       Perhaps we need to re-think this one-sock phenomenon.   

       It may be a combination of the two. In our presence, socks seem to be quite neutral to one another, but perhaps like socks repel, and different socks attract. Maybe your sock didn't like your other sock, and the same happened with mine, so I ended up with one of yours, you ended up with one of mine, and we have "matching" non-matching pairs.
ZediWarrior, Sep 18 2000

       Interesting point, Zedi. I recall losing one of my favorite black socks to the drier last week and having a white one mysteriously apepar in my darks load..   

       Yes.. we have much to learn from socks. If we could only individually tag and monitor each one, perhaps we could discover the secrets of inter-drier travel. Or sockspeed, as it may be. Perhaps interspacial magnetic exchange? IME? Or maybe that's ISME. Dunno.   

       The point is, that socks are the key, the KEY, I tell you!, to discovering many of the secrets of the universe. And by the way, Nutsy, they come from the drier, not the washer. Heh.
Spamman, Oct 15 2000

       Actually, that WAS your black sock. Through random chance, every single one of the detergent molecules that you poured in hit that one sock and soaked all the dye out of it. The rest of your clothes were left dirty but soggy.
StarChaser, Oct 15 2000

       Does anyone actually know that socks never disappear in pairs? I don't have a sock docket to check them in; I could probably lose many pairs before the attrition became noticeable. (I probably do.) It's only single sock returns that are noticeable.
hello_c, Oct 16 2000

       What does the shape of a sock remind you of eh? And hnven't you noticed how limp your sox are in the morning? They've been out all night exercising their famous sox-appeal. The next time one of them doesn't turn up at all, just recall how you used to carry on with every new pair of nylons in town.
rayfo, Nov 12 2000

       "The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage." (Mark Russell) It just seemed to fit in here.
Ander, Jan 02 2001

       In recent weeks, I've accidentally discovered how to avoid losing socks in the wash: due to bad luck and poor laundry strategy, I've ended up washing only one sock from every pair in any given laundry load. My theory is that since only half the pair will dissappear, the system is thwarted by *only* putting half of the pair in the wash. Of course, this leads to the unfortunate situation of never having an entire pair of socks clean at the same time, but that's another issue.   

       Regarding sock communication: since the socks are just flopping about randomly in the wash, this would never work as-is. The movement and the proclivity towards dissappearance must be harnessed in a more controlled manner. I propose a double-layered mesh screen embedded with electronic sensors. This layered mesh would be placed in the wash, and all your socks would be placed between the layers of mesh, thereby being secured against the agitation of the washing machine. Sort of a "secure sock-et layer" if you will... or "SSL" for short.
PotatoStew, Jan 02 2001

       Although I am an electronics engineer, there are much simpler solutions to the lost sock problems - check out www.appliedthoughts.freeserve.co.uk
Applied Thoughts, Mar 17 2001

       The method of key generation by socks is easy. Way in adavance of the need for encryption a number of pairs of socks are purchased. Say you decide to use a 40 bit key, that would be 40 pairs of socks. Each pair should be numbered so the bits can be put in the right order. So as to avoid attracting the suspicion of the people you're hiding the messages from you wait until the next major gift-giving occasion (birthday or Christmas would be best) and send one sock from each pair to the person you'll be corresponding with (bright gift wrap and a cheesy card signed with kisses from Grandma should further allay suspicion).

To generate the key the person sending the message simply washes the socks. As only one sock of any pair can disappear any socks that vanish will not vanish at the other end and any that don't disappear will go missing in the receiver's sock drawer.
sirrobin, Mar 17 2001

       //Through random chance, every single one of the detergent molecules that you poured in hit that one sock and soaked all the dye out of it.

After reading this, I gouged my own eye with my computer mic while laughing. If it is permanent, I'm suing YOU, StarChaser.
AfroAssault, Sep 16 2001

       Well, if I'm gonna pay for it, I want it. Mail it to me...
StarChaser, Sep 16 2001

       Now I can wear an eyepatch for a reason!
AfroAssault, Sep 17 2001

       We've got a double-coupon special today, two gougings for the price of one...then you could wear TWO eyepatches...
StarChaser, Sep 17 2001

       [sirrobin] has covered the cryptography aspect. For faster-than-light communication, each person must have half a set pairs of socks as in the cryptography application. While keeping a close eye on the socks, they travel a great distance apart. Then the sender chooses the message to send, and encodes it in sock-bits. The chosen socks go in the washing machine, while being careful not to lose any of the other socks. Then the washing machine is left on until all socks in it are lost. If there are still socks in it after 24 hours assume the other party has lost socks already despite all the care given, and resend with another batch of socks. Then the receiver washes socks, and all that are left must have been the ones the sender lost.   

       To improve the procedure, you nedd to find the half-lives of unlost socks under various conditions: already unmatched, matched but being watched, and worst of all: matched and in the wash.   

       Also, whether you can just make a group of pure externally matched socks completely disappear by itself, or if you need to dilute them with some pre-unmatched socks or matched pairs as a catalyst.
caspian, Jun 01 2006

       Is this what Winsock _really_ does?
spidermother, Jun 01 2006

       I'm somewhat suprised I have to bring this up so late in the thread, but:   

epicproblem, Jun 01 2006


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