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 […]

Cleaning with spit, and now with pillars and pancakes

Last month human saliva got its due, with the awarding of the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry, as an effective agent to clean surfaces. This month, pillars and pancakes are served up as an effective way to pattern surfaces so that those surfaces will be self-cleaning. Pillar/pancake details are in the new study “Pillars […]

New, tail-swinging research from the urination-duration lab

Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu and colleagues published a new study investigating why elephants and other tail-swinging mammals swing their tails. Specifically, they looked at how (and how well) tail-swinging repels insects. The new study is: “Mammals Repel Mosquitoes With Their Tails,” Marguerite E. Matherne, Kasey Cockerill, Yiyang Zhou, Mihir Bellamkonda, David L. Hu, Journal […]

Physics Breakthough: Snapping a Spaghetti Strand Into 2 (Not 3!) Pieces

BREAKING NEWS! WITH A SURPRISING TWIST! Spaghetti—dry spaghetti—again feeds the intellectual fervor of physicists. Five physicists serve up a surprising new study about an old question about bending a strand past its breaking point: “Controlling Fracture Cascades Through Twisting and Quenching,” Ronald H. Heisser, Vishal P. Patil, Norbert Stoop, Emmanuel Villermaux, and Jörn Dunkel, Proceedings […]