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Scientists solve age-old shoelace mystery

Posted on Wednesday, 12 April, 2017 | Comment icon 15 comments

Why do shoelaces keep unknotting themselves ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Oto Zapletal
A new study has finally determined the reason why our shoelaces keep coming undone all by themselves.
It's one of the most notorious irritations of the modern age - that moment when, looking down at your feet, you realize that your shoelaces have come undone and are flailing all over the place.

Now though, a team of mechanical engineers at UC Berkeley believe that they have finally discovered exactly what it is that causes our shoelaces to untie themselves.

The answer, as it turns out, is a combination of stomping and whipping forces that act like an invisible hand as we walk - loosening the knot and then tugging at the ends until they unravel.

The research however has a broader application than simply helping to keep our shoes tied.

"When you talk about knotted structures, if you can start to understand the shoelace, then you can apply it to other things, like DNA or microstructures, that fail under dynamic forces," said study co-author Christopher Daily-Diamond.

"This is the first step toward understanding why certain knots are better than others, which no one has really done."

Source: Phys.org | Comments (15)

Tags: Shoelaces

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by merlinof2 on 12 April, 2017, 16:53
So this is where my tax dollars for higher education go. I knew what caused the issue back when I was a kid. I'm 62 now. Typical of Berkeley spoiled elites to solve an issue that didn't need solving. Somehow I doubt the explanation of Adidas and Nike sneakers coming untied will provide any insite into
Comment icon #7 Posted by Parsec on 12 April, 2017, 17:51
I for one though it was because of the shoelaces fairies. So to me definitely a useful study.
Comment icon #8 Posted by MWoo7 on 12 April, 2017, 17:53
flip it one more time when you make first knot . . . or toss salt around whatever to keep the fairies out. hhhhhhh so stupid HAHAHA! what's silly is if you say that in public and they think your being serious, #$9 idiots, happens to me constantly, basically I quit tossing jokes out there at parties etc.
Comment icon #9 Posted by seanjo on 12 April, 2017, 21:37
Comment icon #10 Posted by Twin on 13 April, 2017, 4:23
I have a pair of shoes with laces made of something very slippery (teflon?) I finally solved the problem. Tie them just right & secure the center of the knot with a nice tight ZIP TIE!!!
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer on 13 April, 2017, 18:16
What else were the mechanical engineers at Berkeley had to do? I thought besides the walking motion the tightness pull of the knot versus the coefficient of friction the shoelace has was also a factor. The smooth shoelaces always seem to undo more then the uncoated textures ones.
Comment icon #12 Posted by South Alabam on 14 April, 2017, 2:03
Make the strings out of Velcro.
Comment icon #13 Posted by James McCraken on 18 April, 2017, 4:59
is...this not like...common sense?
Comment icon #14 Posted by FLOMBIE on 19 April, 2017, 16:00
When you tie your shoes, and you wrap one lace around the other, give it an additional loop, and your shoes will never ever get untied again.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Future ghost on 19 April, 2017, 18:41
Really? Scientists actually studied this? This is something that everyone already knows. Did they run out of important things to study, like curing cancer? Double knot, end of story.

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