Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Why Do Shoelaces Come Untied?

Something bothered Oliver O’Reilly.  Specifically, he was bothered that his shoelaces always came untied when he went out running.  O’Reilly, a professor of mechanical engineering with the University of California, Berkeley, decided to conduct an in-depth study to figure out why his shoelaces came untied when he went running.
Using a high-speed camera and a study co-author (Christine Gregg) as the runner, they filmed actual knots untying.  Eventually, the researchers conducted studies on a pendulum that mimicked the stride of a runner.  This kind of controlled study (pun intended) added weight to their work.
Okay, I am going to tell you what the researchers discovered.  Try to keep up with me on this part.  I will put this in plain English to help.  Here is what the researchers figured out: Shoelaces come untied because the laces are flopping around.
Holy wow!
Who knew?
Upon finishing their study, the researchers published a paper.  The paper includes actual photographs of shoelaces, some stuff about inertia and gravity, and shoes.
I read about this study with great fascination, but in the end wondered: Why didn’t Oliver’s mother teach him to tie a double-knot so his laces won’t come untied?
--Mitchell Hegman
If you are interested in reading more about the shoelace study, try this link: 

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