Saturday, October 22, 2011

Something Knotty Going On

Ever wonder how the wire on your earbuds for your smartphone or Blackberry go into your pocket semi-organized and come out knotted into an untangleable jumble?

Me too.

It's actually quite freaky. Cords sitting in drawers seem to do the same thing. There's actually a competition based on how long it takes for people to untangle their technology cord jumbles.

So what's up?

I Googled it. Here's part of the answer:

the fundamental ubiquity of knots comes from the fact that they tie themselves: knots are generated by the combination of a long string with some sort of random motion. This is a sort of derivative law of nature stemming from the Second Law of Thermodynamics (maximize entropy) as applied to long floppy things: Long Things Get Tangled.
Wow!

And there's more:

 the knot forms in two stages: First, a loop or series of loops come together, and then the free end finds its way through the tangle.

And surprise - the tangles aren't random. They're predictable:

Among the issues now coming to light is that spontaneous knotting is apparently not a random process.
  See, we knew that!

There's great news though. Here's the solution:

if you don't want the drawcords on your venetian blinds to knot themselves up, get some stiffer cord—or a smaller room.
Stiffer cord and a smaller room! Perfect. Start wearing tight jeans.

That way, no more 5 minute delay untangling some unrandom knot when you decide it's time for a little smartphone music!

Stay tuned, I'm about to Google "what happened to my other sock?"!

1 comment:

meetyouhalfway said...

This is so great! Who knew there was really a scientific explanation about how and why cords get tangled? How interesting and fun! I can't wait to read about what happens to all those missing socks!