fbpx Skip to content

Professor Quippy: Headphone theory

Professor QuippyDo you hate it when your headphones get knotted up into a ball of unusable plastic? So does Dorian Raymer, a biophysicist at the University of California, San Diego.

So he worked out some experiments to figure out the phenomenon, and he discovered that headphone cables are the perfect length for getting knots in them. If they were shorter, they would get less knotted. Some of the knots he produced in the experiments were extremely complicated “prime knots” with more than eleven crossings.

And it turns out that having an advanced degree in biophysics doesn’t make untangling those knots any less annoying.

No word yet on how to prevent the “Raymer” Syndrome yet, nor on what happens to that sock that goes missing in your dryer.

Link: Don’t get to excited about reading this — you’ll need a subscription to read the whole story, and they never really explain what causes the phenomenon: Unravelled: The mystery of why strings tangle