Physicists finally explain why your earphones are always tangled.


As usual I posted a dumb joke on twitter.


When I write jokes I’m not saying things in search of an answer, but this time I got one that was pretty interesting.



ā€œIt is well known that a jostled string tends to become knotted; yet the factors governing the ā€œspontaneousā€ formation of various knots are unclear. We performed experiments in which a string was tumbled inside a box and found that complex knots often form within seconds. We used mathematical knot theory to analyze the knots. Above a critical string length, the probability P of knotting at first increased sharply with length but then saturated below 100%. This behavior differs from that of mathematical self-avoiding random walks, where P has been proven to approach 100%. Finite agitation time and jamming of the string due to its stiffness result in lower probability, but P approaches 100% with long, flexible strings. We analyzed the knots by calculating their Jones polynomials via computer analysis of digital photos of the string. Remarkably, almost all were identified as prime knots: 120 different types, having minimum crossing numbers up to 11, were observed in 3,415 trials. All prime knots with up to seven crossings were observed. (READ MORE HERE)

Either way even now that I know why, I still spend half my life untangling them! Thanks for your response Hunter Rogers. – @marconibologna