Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

Auckland 2004 Yellow Pages booksImage via Wikipedia
My family loves the show, "Mythbusters" on Discovery. This evening we watched an episode they could actually emulate, AND it finally gave me something to do with the plethora of phone books that darken my doorstep, seemingly every other week.

Today they taught the kids how to tear a phone book in half. The kids were not quite able to pull it off, but they had a big time trying. And they got the skinny on how to technically do it, so with enough practice, they could get it down.

The second, more successful, phone book exploration actually involved a myth, stating:
If you take two phone books and face them, spine out, toward each other, and interweave the pages, one from each book at a time, they can not be pulled apart.

On the show, only two tanks pulling in opposite directions pulled the phone books apart. It was the equivalent of 8,000 pounds of force. They asserted that it was the friction between the pages that kept them interwoven so tightly.

We decided to perform our own experiment. We took two Real Yellow Pages phone books that said they expired in 2008 and put them together. We took a page from one book and layered a page from the other book on top of it. Thousands of pages later, we had two books interwoven.

Now the test: We pulled and pulled.  No luck. They wouldn't budge. They may as well have been super-glued together, except they didn't even rip.

We were sufficiently impressed, not to mention we had a great new party trick.

We send out a challenge to all who read:
1. Can you make the phone books come apart?
2. Can you tell us why they don't come apart?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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