Journal: News & Comment

Thursday, October 27, 2005
# 11:04:00 PM:

How to un-wobble a table

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Shake Shack: Tables & ChairsAndré Martin, a physicist at CERN, the European physics lab where the Web was invented, recently delivered a mathematical proof that you can un-wobble a wobbly table by rotating it—on most normal surfaces (concrete, grass, tile), there will be at least one position in the rotation where all four legs are on the ground, and the table is stable, if not completely level:

Time after time, Martin would find himself rotating the table to look for a stable position. "I've always been able to find one," he says. "People are sometimes amazed that it works."

The proof itself required over a decade of on-and-off (mostly off) work, but now you know. Presumably, it would work for wobbly chairs too, but that might mean you'd be facing a totally useless direction once you stopped the wobble.

UPDATE: Yo points out that this proof only applies if the table legs are more or less even. Which makes sense: intuitively, if one of a table's legs were half the length of the others, you wouldn't expect it to be able to level out unless there was a rock of similar proportion right under it.


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