The Physics of Cutting with Scissors

Long celebrated for its savoir faire, its insouciant elegance, and its bloody habit of guillotining aristocrats, Paris, France is also the undisputed world leader in scissors research. Since its founding more than two-hundred years ago, scientists at the Institut National de Recherche en Ciseaux have made an impressive number of discoveries about the physics, sociology, and biology of scissors.

Just last week, Jules Pépin and Dominic Desruisseaux, co-directors of the Institut’s Groupe de Physique Nucléaire de Recherche en Ciseaux made a revolutionary new observation, adding one more groundbreaking discovery to the Institut’s long list of world-changing revelations. While observing the cutting action of a pair of Chic 5.0 scissors through an electron microscope, the two physicists observed that the sharpened edges of the scissors never actually touch the paper being cut. Instead, the paper divides or, as they say in their report, “sections itself” 2.98 Å ahead of the scissors’ cutting edges.

As yet, Pépin and Desruisseaux have no explanation of this remarkable phenomenon:

It is possible, although we have no reason to believe this, that one of the nuclear forces, strong or weak as the case may be, is responsible for this effect. It is also possible—this is our personal belief, although, again, we have absolutely no evidence to support it—that this discovery points to a weakness in the current standard model of physics. We also believe that time travel may be involved.

Yolande Lambert, researcher at the rival Institut de la Nation Français de Recherche sur les Ciseaux has publicly criticized both the findings and the methods of Pépin and Desruisseaux:

This is not science in any sense of the word. These persons—I would not even dream of calling them scientists—they must have asparagus for brains. I cannot believe that any member of the genus Homo—no, I cannot believe that any primate, in fact even any mammal—would say something so altogether without sense. New physics indeed. What they need is a new microscope.

To date, other physicists involved in the nuclear physics of scissors have been unable to replicate the findings of Pépin and Desruisseaux.

Photo: “Schere Gr 99,” CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Modified.

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