Why do the Christmas lights always mix together?

If you’re dealing with a tangled mess of Christmas lights, it can be hard to get into the holiday spirit. It seems that no matter how neatly packaged these shimmering strands are. winter, the next holiday season somehow find themselves in a torture ball. So what’s causing this messy mess?

In 2007, researchers published a study in the journal Nature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (opens in new tab) (PNAS) explains what causes this headache-inducing phenomenon. For the experiment, they put different lengths of string inside a box and mechanically jiggled the strings to rip them around like a load of laundry in the dryer. They repeated the process over 3,400 times and noticed that within seconds of turning the box, knots began to form. More than 120 node types occurred throughout the experiment.

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