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Broomstick challenge: Why people are balancing brooms across North America

P. O. Makori

Feb. 12, 2020

No, people are not flying on broomsticks.
While it might seem silly, the latest craze on social media is really as simple as it sounds.
People are balancing brooms upright, and then getting excited after the brooms stay up without being held or supported against a wall. A number of people have also speculated that this is the ideal time to try this trick, because certain days are allegedly better for balancing objects. In fact, many people stated that NASA started the challenge, but that isn't true.
Regardless of where the challenge began, people from across the globe began trying out the balancing act and sharing photos and videos of their attempts.
"Let's start with debunking the idea that there are special days of the year where things are more likely to balance," she begins. "That's simply not true."
Eix adds that a great deal of social media trends tend to be time sensitive, and they spread quickly. She adds that there is also a rumour that eggs may be balanced more easily during the equinox - the instant of time when the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun - which is also untrue.
"In light of these rumours folks should definitely think about their scientific sources. Information spreads quickly online, and it isn't always true," she underscores.
NASA Earth echoed Eix's words, noting that, "There's no special gravity that affects only brooms, but the Moon's gravity creates tides on Earth."
Eix adds that everything has a centre of gravity, and therefore can be balanced. She highlights how a 30 cm ruler's centre of gravity is located at the 15 cm point, and that a ruler can easily be supported by only a finger at that point.
"You could even flip a broom upside down and balance it on your hand, and not by the part with bristles. You'd notice that you need to make micro-adjustments to keep it stable, but it will work."
According to Eix, people are most likely making the bristles of the brushes spread out at the base in order to stay upright. She remarks that this is similar to the design of the Eiffel Tower, which has a large base and a thinner top. A number of skyscrapers utilize this architectural concept, and Science World has an exhibit which features miniature models called the Towers of Tommorrow.
The Science World dome lights will be purple tonight in support of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
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