Science Explains Why Shoelace Knot Come Untied

Posted: Apr 12 2017, 4:56am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 12 2017, 5:15am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Science Explains Why Shoelace Knot Come Untied
Credit: University of California - Berkeley
  • science explains why shoelaces unravel over time

Science has finally explained why shoelaces become loose with the passage of time.

A novel study by UC Berkeley mechanical engineers shows why shoelaces get untied with duration. The study was spearheaded by a group of mechanical engineers. While nearly everybody has stopped many times to tie their shoes, no one has asked the relevant question why these pesky shoelaces become loose in the first place.

The right answer to this question is that a double pounding of stomping actions and whipping forces act like invisible hands to loosen the knot and pull on the shoelaces till they unravel.

It is more than just a case of the scientists trying to answer simple questions. Knot mechanics are of great importance in physics.

How knots give in under pressure from a combination of forces has to be studied for practical purposes and not just to answer questions asked out of sheer curiosity.

Via a slow motion camera and a number of experiments, the study showed that shoelace untying occurs within moments and due to a weird combination of forces acting on the shoelaces.

When we talk about knot morphology, it is not just something which is to be confined to shoelaces. DNA strands and other small-scale structures are part of the equation.

The reason why certain patterns of knots are stronger than others and can remain in place for longer is the essential take-home lesson from all this. The study will get published in a journal soon.

There are basically two methods of tying a shoelace bow tie knot. The first is a stronger version and is called the square knot. This consists of two lace crossings of opposite handedness on top of each other.

The other one is a weaker version and it is called a false knot. It consists of two lace crossings having the same handedness.

Yet there is the paradox that ultimately both knots fail. Also they fail through the same mechanism. From the viewpoint of mechanics, knots are a science unto themselves.

The fact that you can take two loose ends and tie them in a way that is strong and a way that is weak in itself is a fascinating foray into the world of gripping structures. While the weak knot fails for sure, even the strong knot fails after a while.

A lot still remains an enigma regarding knots and their mechanics. The whole thing is fairly complex. The knots remain in place for quite some time before a series of external actions cause them to unravel.

This study is published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

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