A physicist figured out how to minimise the chances of knots forming in headphone cables.
Bill Murray once tweeted, “How to tie the strongest knot ever: 1) Put some headphones in your pocket 2) Wait one minute.”
Actually, it was a fake Murray Twitter account. But the joke was so dead-on that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos cited it when he unveiled the company’s Fire smartphone in 2014.
It’s enough of a pain in the ass that physicist Robert Matthews, Ph.D., of Aston University in England, took it upon himself to figure out a fix.
And after conducting loads of laborious research—including 12,000(!) knotting tests—Matthews and his team came up with a ridiculously simple solution.
1. Clip the two earbuds together with any kind of clip. Matthews says a standard binder clip, which you can pick up at any office-supply store, works best.
But a twist tie, paper clip, or bobby pin will do the trick, too. A lot of headphones now come with a “slider” that can be moved up the cable to hold the earbuds together.
2. Then, take another clip and attach the fused buds to the end of the cable near the audio jack. Voilà, you’ve made yourself a loop.
“Theory (and bitter experience) shows that knots will form, given half a chance,” says Matthews. But when you join the ends of the cable together and create a loop, it significantly reduces the chance of knotting, he says.
3. Go ahead, tangle that bad boy. You can’t!