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Scientists know why your shoelaces keep coming undone

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Emily Reynolds
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Constantly having to bend down and retie your shoelaces is annoying. It’s annoying. But it’s also pretty unavoidable: unless you tie your laces SUPER TIGHT or wear, like, slip-ons, at some point you are going to have to stop and do your lace up or, worse, trip over your lace like a nerd.

It’s alright, though – scientists have finally discovered why it happens so often.

When you walk or run in laced-up shoes, the “force of a foot striking the ground stretches and relaxes the knot”, while the swinging of the laces “acts on the ends”. It’s the combination of the two – at about 7g of acceleration – that causes your laces to come undone.

The team used a running machine and slow motion cameras to capture and study the act of a lace coming undone.

The research might not just be useful for people who are bored of constantly bending down to tie their laces, either: the team say understanding the physics of an undone shoelace could also apply to other structures that “fail under dynamic forces” like DNA.

“This is the first step toward understanding why certain knots are better than others, which no one has really done,” said lead researcher Christopher Daily-Diamond.

The team also has a few solutions. Tying a “better” knot is the first, and fairly obvious, solution – a knot that wraps the loose end around the loop is less likely to come undone. Or, Daily-Diamond told Motherboard, you can simply tuck your shoelaces in to your shoes. The only problem, he says?

“It’s dorky”.  

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Emily Reynolds

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