"ONE of our winning questions to Stephen Hawking was "Why, when two socks pass the washday event horizon, do they so often become singularities?" (11 September). Peter Hicks's proposal prompted reader Geoff Levick to recall investigating this very serious matter in the 1970s.
He reports discovering that the board of New Zealand's largest sock manufacturer and the board of the country's only washing-machine manufacturer had two directors in common. He deduced that collaboration between the two companies had resulted in a device for the washing machine that extracted socks on a random basis, shredded them, and expelled them in the wash water.
Some time spent upside down in the machine bowl with a torch in an unsuccessful search for the device only led him to conclude that it was very cleverly hidden."