The Walnut In The Machine

Imagine a group of people gather for a tour of a machine tool factory.  At the beginning, a walnut is distributed to each person.  The nut is in its familiar tough brown shell.

At one stage on the factory floor, a large hydraulic press is pressing train wheels onto axles. The tour guide says the press is strong enough to crush a car, but gentle enough to crack a walnut, and asks for a volunteer to submit their nut for a demonstration.  Dials on the machine are adjusted, and the walnut shell is cracked open, the machine stopping and releasing the nutmeat unharmed.

The tour proceeds, and the tour participants go home to relay their experiences.  Some of those not on the tour can’t imagine a machine with the combination of strength and sensitivity needed to perform the feet described.  Especially the friends and families of those with the still-whole walnuts are met with some skepticism, fending off observations about the tough un-cracked nut and how walnut shells are one of the hardest non-mineral substances.  Some are accused of prevarication.  Others upon hearing the story seem intent on missing the point by emphasizing the inefficiency of such a huge machine to the task for which a small hand-tool would suffice.

Of all parties involved, some participated more directly in the experience. Some witnessed the event first hand. Some heard about it second hand.

Some believe because of evidence, some believe on testimony, some reserve judgement pending personal experience, and some don’t believe.