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13 April 2017, 16:34
A new study has shed light on one of life's small annoyances.
It’s one of life’s small annoyances – you’re walking along, happy as Larry, and your shoelaces have come untied YET AGAIN.
Why does this keep happening? Well, a new study at American university UC Berkeley has revealed all.
Initially the answer seems like simple common sense: your footsteps and the forward motion act like a hand that unties the laces.
Yet the seemingly obvious answer belies a more complex revelation, as it gives an insight into how different forces cause knots to come undone. The video below shows how quickly a knot comes untied. For the study, co-author Christine Gregg laced up a pair of running shoes and ran on a treadmill while her colleagues filmed her shoes.
Christopher Daily-Diamond, who co-wrote the report, says: “When you talk 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. “This is the first step toward understanding why certain knots are better than others, which no one has really done.”
Oliver O’Reilly, a Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering, whose lab conducted the research, added: “We are trying to understand knots from a mechanics perspective, such as why you can take two strands and connect them in a certain way that can be very strong, but another way of connecting them is very weak.
He added: “We were able to show that the weak knot will always fail and the strong knot will fail at a certain time scale, but we still do not understand why there’s a fundamental mechanical difference between those two knots.”
The phenomenon occurs because your foot strikes the ground at seven times the force of gravity when you run.
However, while we can now explain the problem, we can’t prevent it from happening – sorry about that!