Why Do Shoes Come Untied?

WHILE SOME SCIENTISTS ARE TACKLING EARTH-SHATTERING ISSUES, LIKE THE EXTINCTION OF ANIMAL SPECIES – OTHERS ARE WORKING ON SOLVING EVERYDAY ANNOYANCES.
AND, I’M SURE WE'VE ALL EXPERIENCED ONE SUCH ANNOYANCE... YOU TIE YOUR SHOELACES AND GO FOR WALK... AND SOME HOW, YOUR SHOE LACES COME UNTIED. SCIENTISTS DECIDED TO FIGURE OUT WHY THAT IS.

WAYNE FREEDMAN REPORTS.

YOU'VE BEEN THERE, YOU'VE DONE THIS...RETIED A SHOE ON WHICH, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, A LACE HAS COME LOOSE. FOR DR. OLIVER O'REILLY AT UC BERKELEY, FINALLY, ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH.

Dr. Oliver O'Reilly/UC Berkeley: "It is scientific curiosity."

IT IS APPLICABLE TO ANYONE ON THE PLANET WHO WEARS SHOES. WHY MUST THEIR LACES COME UNTIED?

*nats of group talking*

CALL IT THE NUISANCE THAT LED TO CURIOSITY...AND FINALLY INTENSE INVESTIGATION BY DR. O'REILLY AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERING GRADUATE STUDENTS CHRISTINE GREGG AND CHRISTOPHER DAILY-DIAMOND. IF THE QUESTION SOUNDS SIMPLE, CONSIDER THE FACTORS.

Dr. Oliver O'Reilly/UC Berkeley: "Your walking stride, your shoelace material..."

Christine Gregg/Student: "How is it tied?" .

Christopher Daily-Diamond/Student: "We have friction. We have the side. We have the shape, how it's tied."

Christine Gregg/Student: "What's the material of the lace? What are your shoes made out of?"

THE TEAM SPENT MORE THAN TWO YEARS STUDYING THIS, 'DYNAMIC UNTYING' AS THEY CALLED IT. TESTING DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF THE TYPICAL BOW KNOT IN BOTH THE WEAK AND STRONG CONFIGURATIONS.

Christopher Daily-Diamond/Student: "Not all work has to be Nobel Prize Worthy. Some of the best work even goes unrecognized."

CHRISTINE WALKED AND RAN COUNTLESS MILES ON BERKELEY STREETS... THEN EVEN MORE ON A TREADMILL, WHERE, WITH A SLOW MOTION CAMERA THEY CAPTURED AND DUPLICATED THIS....THE FORCES THAT SLOWLY BREAK PULL EVEN THE STRONGEST KNOTS TO FAILURE. SO, NO. THIS IS NOT A A MATTER OF HUMAN ERROR. IT'S PHYSICS....WITH POSSIBLE FUTURE APPLICATIONS THAT MIGHT EVEN HELP US UNDERSTAND DNA.

photographer: "Is there a formula for this?"

Dr. Oliver O'Reilly/UC Berkeley: "No."

Wayne Freedman/Reporting: "you might be wondering how many millions of dollars this cost taxpayers of california . Well it turns out all of these investigators are already employees of the state of california. all of the equipment they used they borrowed. So the cost? Dare we say it?" Christopher Daily-Diamond/Student: "On a shoestring."

EARTH-SHAKING? NO. BUT SOMEDAY THIS RESEARCH MAY INFLUENCE HOW YOU WALK ON IT.


Instructional Links


Website Article: Science Magazine, Why Do Shoelaces Untie Themselves? This Team May Have The Answer | Includes video of scientific explanation.

Graphic: The Royal Society, Diagram of Knots | Shows how to tie better knot.

Website Article: Science Buddies, Mechanical Engineer | Info on the career.

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