#11 – THE NOSE GREASE THEORY – UMBERTO TUNESI

Umberto Tunesi pixWherever there is Friction, lubricants are used both to enhance the movement performance and to reduce wear of the moving parts.

WHATEVER kind of friction one can think of: friction does not only belong to gears – and gears, too, are not only metal or plastic wheels, or levers.

When I worked in Hamburg (Germany), the technical chief of the R&D laboratory I was assigned to, used to lubricate the knife blade he used to cut rubber slabs – anyone who works with rubber knows how hard is to cut it – with his own nose-grease.

Humans face is quite rich on fats, in the heat it’s probably the first part of our body that goes sweating. But this Technician, a very experienced one, thought of the nose-grease, or greasy / oily excretion, as a most effective one.

Why did he so? Never explained, but it was effective, and it kept his nose not to shine.

What’s the lesson to be learned – provided there is one?

Frictions are everyday life.

Frictions put at stake any process, be it more or less tangible. Man has always worked hard to reduce friction’s side effects.

As the story goes, the wheel was first circular but it run too fast, producing much heat. So a clever man with a club made it three-sided; but women and children complained of the many bumps when traveling. Hence he made his wheels four-sided, which was even worse.

The stone wheel lived for millennia – and still lives in some maniac advertisements of alleged natural wheat food; until two gentlemen – one american, the other french (in alphabetical order, not to discriminate) discovered that something coming out of a tree, and used for long time by “savages”, would reduce both friction and heat. It’s called rubber, since, probably because it’s connected to “rub”, friction.

Savages? Or Sages?

Modern man has the wheel, he has reduced both friction and heat production. The Wheel is everywhere, so much everywhere that we forget how common and important it is.

Just like the nose-fat.

Modern Man goes hunting everyday for “the new”, because some false divinities commanded him to sell, and told him that the new sells better.

Maybe Man should go back to his own nose-fat to reduce this kind of frictions.

This may also well apply to “organizational frictions”: ISO teaches us of organizational “structure”, but we all know that, as in any machinery, the more complex it is, the more frictions there can be – and there are.

Thinking of a man – woman couple, frictions are no wonder; and they are two individuals: let’s think of a multi-national Company made of thousands individuals. The number and the extent of frictions go skyrocket.

We are discovering, thanks to the aero-space industry, that metal is not as solid as we believed it to be. I’ve always thought of that, because: one, I don’t like metal, two, I’m a plastic-addicted chemist.

And I was taught that metal corrosion is probably one of the least investigated natural phenomenon.

What has this got to do with nose-grease  and friction?

Friction is a very powerful corrosion agent, in all senses: we seldom think of it in terms of personal interaction, unfortunately, and very naively.

  • Let’s use more of our nose-grease – and our “nose”, too, therefore.

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