The secret to why shoelaces untie themselves

Throughout the day, people are constantly pausing to retie their shoe laces. However, a group of mechanical engineers at U.C. Berkeley have discovered how shoelaces untie themselves.

On Wednesday, the group of researchers published their study to help people better understand what exactly causes shoelaces to become undone. Whether the knots on the shoe are tied loosely or tightly has a major part in examining how well they stand up to a human’s daily activities.

In a statement, Christopher Daily-Diamond, study co-author and graduate student at UC Berkeley, said, “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.”

One of the ways the researchers conducted the study is by putting a slow-motion camera on the running shoes of graduate student and study co-author, Christine Gregg, as she ran on a treadmill.

 Upon examination, the researchers concluded that the shoe lace knots were under 'extreme' pressure.

When Gregg’s foot landed on the ground, the laces “jolted with the downward force,” and when the foot swung off the ground, another force “pulls on the free ends of the knot,” which ultimately unties the shoe lace.

The researchers tested multiple types of shoes and laces, but for the most part, the way the laces untied themselves was “remarkably similar.”

The group is continuing to work on the research revolving around knots.

Christine Gregg said, “It might seem like a trivial problem, but the fact remains that we are trying to understand what fundamentally makes a knot strong.”

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