In addition to studying questions like what causes diseases and what is the origin or life and the universe, science also on occasion investigates important questions like why is it that the cord of your earphones get tangled up if you lay them down for even a second? It is easy to dismiss this as just one’s imagination but physicists find that this is a real effect and that the spontaneous formation of knots has an explanation.
It turns out that depending on the stiffness of the string, they tend to form coils and then the loose ends weave through the strands of the coils, like braiding, and voila!, you have a knot.
We performed experiments in which a string was tumbled inside a box and found that complex knots often form within seconds. We used mathematical knot theory to analyze the knots. Above a critical string length, the probability P of knotting at first increased sharply with length but then saturated below 100%.
Based on the observation that long, stiff strings tend to form a coiled structure when confined, we propose a simple model to describe the knot formation based on random “braid moves” of the string end. Our model can qualitatively account for the observed distribution of knots and dependence on agitation time and string length.
A good follow up to this would be to find ways to avoid the knots forming in the first place.
It is incredible that some people dismiss science as not being useful.