Have you seen the "How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds" video? SAVEUR magazine's Executive Food Editor, Todd Coleman, demonstrates how you can peel a head of garlic with minimal effort and without the pesky lingering smell under your fingernails.
Here's the best explanation I found for why this works...
"The dry fibrous peel is relatively brittle, so all the agitation inside the shaking bowls helps to break it open along the seams. The clove itself is slightly slippery, so that helps it to slip out of the broken peel. The friction and the mutual abrasion of the cloves as they bounce around inside the bowls is crucial. It’s working on the same principle as a rock tumbler, in which the stones rub one another to smoothness."
I love someone's comment regarding the explanation: "Amazing! This will save me a lot of effort, the “why” is definitely secondary to me…"