Dear Dr. Boli: I bought a new refrigerator one week ago today, and this morning I opened the freezer door, and in the back of the freezer there’s this bag of something. I have no idea what. I’m nearly positive I didn’t put it there. It’s a clear plastic bag, for all the good that does me, because what’s inside doesn’t bear any resemblance to any substance I think of as “food.” It’s sort of bluish grey. What is it and how did it get there? —Sincerely, Afraid to Go Into the Kitchen.
Dear Sir or Madam: You seem to be right about on schedule. Scientific investigations, confirmed by a recent metastudy, have shown that it takes a new refrigerator an average of six days to accumulate its first mysterious object or substance. Some of these cryptocryons, as they are technically called in the literature, may take the form of objects or growths in plastic bags; others may be in unmarked plastic tubs or glass jars. The only reasonably satisfactory theory to account for this phenomenon is the one advanced by Aristotle nearly two and a half millennia ago; viz., that, under certain favorable conditions, certain forms of life are spontaneously generated from the materials around them. As for what to do about the mysterious substance, you should probably leave it where it is. As long as it remains frozen, it is not likely to do you any harm. But be wary of power failures.