programming in the
twenty-first century

It's not about technology for its own sake. It's about being able to implement your ideas.

What Can You Put in a Refrigerator?

This may sound ridiculous, but I'm serious. The goal is to write a spec for what's allowed to be put into a refrigerator. I intentionally picked something that everyone has lots of experience with. Here's a first attempt:

Anything that (1) fits into a refrigerator and (2) is edible.

#1 is hard to argue with, and the broad stroke of #2 is sensible. Motorcycles and bags of cement are off the list. Hmmm...what about liquids? Can I pour a gallon of orange juice into the refrigerator? All right, time for version 2.0:

Anything that's edible and fits into a refrigerator. Liquids must be in containers.

Hey, what about salt? It fits, is edible, and isn't a liquid, so you're free to pour a container of salt into this fridge. You could say that salt is more of a seasoning than a food, in an attempt to disallow it, but I'll counter with uncooked rice. This could start a long discussion about what kinds of food actually need refrigeration--uncooked rice doesn't, but cooked rice does. Could we save energy in the long haul by blocking things that don't need to be kept cool? That word need complicates things, so let's drop this line of thinking for now.

Anything that's edible and fits into a refrigerator. Items normally stored in containers must be in containers.

How about a penguin? Probably need some kind of clause restricting living creatures. Maybe the edibility requirement covers this, except leopard seals and sea lions eat penguins. No living things across the board is safest way to plug this hole. Wait, do the bacteria in yogurt count as living? This entire edibility issue is troublesome. What about medicine that needs to be kept cool?

Oh no, we've only been thinking about residential uses! A laboratory refrigerator changes everything. Now we've got to consider organs and cultures and chemicals and is it okay to keep iced coffee in there with them. It also never occurred to me until right now that we can't even talk about any of this until we define exactly what the allowed temperature range of a refrigeration appliance is.

In the interest of time, I'll offer this for-experts-only spec for "What can you put in a refrigerator?":

Anything that fits into a refrigerator.

permalink November 12, 2015



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I'm James Hague, a recovering programmer who has been designing video games since the 1980s. Programming Without Being Obsessed With Programming and Organizational Skills Beat Algorithmic Wizardry are good starting points. For the older stuff, try the 2012 Retrospective.

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