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So THAT’S Why Your Shoe Laces Always Come Untied

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It’s a problem no one has dared to study before: why, exactly, do shoelaces come untied?

Three mechanical technologists at UC Berkeley — Christine Gregg, Oliver O’Reilly, and Christopher Daily-Diamond — have been busy figuring out the answer to one of life’s simplest( and most vexing) problems. According to their study, which was recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, it all depends on two main factors: stomping and whipping forces-out .

In order to arrive at these findings, the Cal Berkeley technologists videotaped Gregg while she ran on a treadmill. It was filmed in slow-motion so researchers could figure out what causes” shoelace knot failing .”

Steve Debenport via Getty Images

“First, the repeated impact of the shoe on the floor during walking serves to loosen the knot ,” the study tells .” Then, the whipping motions of the free aims of the laces caused by the leg swing make slipping of the laces. This have contributed to eventual runaway untangling of the knot .”

Stomping or whipping forces by themselves are not enough to untie the shoe, as both forces-out must take effect.

In the study, the researchers also looked at the two most common styles people tie their shoes. The images from such studies below exemplify both the strong and weak versions of the knots:

The Royal Society Proceedings A From researchers Christopher A. Daily-Diamond, Christine E. Gregg and Oliver M O’Reilly.

” Some laces might be better than others for tying knots, but the fundamental mechanics causing them to fail is the same, we believe ,” Gregg said in an interview with Berkeley’s website.

And while such studies about shoelaces sounds pretty simple, it could have major implications for DNA research.

” When “were talking 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-out ,” Daily-Diamond told Berkeley’s website.” This is the first step toward understanding why certain knots are better than others, which no one has really done .”

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