The Shoelace Catastrophe, examined today at Cornell

Cornell University is hosting a talk today about the how-do-shoelaces-come-untied problem— specifically about the math and physics of it:

MAE Colloquium: “The Shoelace Catastrophe (or a Knotty Problem on a Shoestring“)
Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at 4:00pm, B11 Kimball Hall

ABSTRACT: The accidental untying of a shoelace while walking often occurs without warning. Modeling and simulating the unraveling is an exceptionally difficult task in part because of the wide range of length scales, time scales and parameters.  Finding external funding to examine the problem is arguably an even harder problem.

In this talk, we present a set of hypotheses for the series of events that lead to a shoelace knot becoming untied.

The event listing does not specify whether attendees are required to wear shoes.

Thanks to Norm Trigoboff for bringing this to our attention. The topic conjures up a piece of music composed some years ago by Johann Sebastian Bach. The tune will be featured, in a new and rather different context, as part of the opera “Creatures of Habit.” The opera has its premiere on Thursday evening, September 12, as part of the 29th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony.