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A mathematician has done a fascinating, deep-dive analysis of that ‘Pivot!’ couch scene in ‘Friends’

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Harvey Day
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PIVOT!!!

Data scientist Caroline Zunckel PhD has crunched the numbers

Ross Geller, the puniest, least funny and generally most pathetic of all the Friends, had very few memorable moments. When he wasn’t being out-acted by a capuchin monkey, he was cheating on Rachel while they were on a break. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

But one Ross scene that fans can still genuinely enjoy is his famous ‘Pivot!’ moment, which came in the season six episode ‘The One With The Cop’.

I know you remember it well but here it is again anyways:

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In the end, Ross was forced to chop the sofa in half and sell it back to the store for scrap but it turns out things didn’t have to turn out that way.

By analysing the iconic scene in meticulous detail and estimating the dimensions of the stairs and the couch (which included running a staggering 10,000 simulations based on different measurements) data scientist Caroline Zunckel PhD has produced a mathematical equation and methodology explaining how Ross could have moved the couch up the stairs and into his flat - if he only thought to tilt it at precise points on the stairwell. Along with a degree in advanced mathematics. 

The formula:

Angle of vertical tilt (T) = 44.15064 -11.94274xWS (Width of the Stairwell) + 8.69119xWC (Width of the Couch) + 3.65961xLC (Length of the Couch)

And these are the steps Ross could have used to solve the couch-ey conundrum:

Step 1: First Ross should have measured the width of the stairs (WS), and the width (WC) and length (LC) of the couch.

Step 2: Ross then should have used the equation to find out the minimum angle (T) that the couch would need to be tilted upwards to move around the 90-degree corner of the stairwell.

Step 3: After carrying the couch to the corner Ross, Rachel and Chandler reach a point where they can’t move any more. When this happens Ross, Rachel and Chandler should have rested the couch against the corner.

Step 4: Here the friends should have tilted the couch vertically towards the ceiling until the angle between the stairs and the base of the couch was greater than or equal to T. At this point the vertical length of the couch would be smaller than the horizontal length and they should have been able to successfully pivot the couch round the corner without it getting stuck.

Step 5: Once round the corner Ross, Rachel and Chandler should have moved the couch back to its original orientation and the carried it up to the flat.

Caroline Zunckel, working with Spareroom to produce the analysis, said: “By applying Pythagoras’ theorem to the estimated measurements of Ross’s sofa in a vertical position and dimensions of the stairwell, I was able to establish that it would have been possible for Ross to get the sofa up the stairwell and into the flat without resorting to the extreme measure of chopping it in half. It’s quite simple really!”

For a supposedly brainy paleontologist we really expected more from you Ross. What a doofus! 

(Image: Getty / NBCUniversal)

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Harvey Day

Digital writer for Shortlist.com / @harveyday94 / harvey.day@shortlist.com

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