It has happened to everyone, and anyone who says it hasn’t happened to them is either lying, or they don’t own a set of earbuds. It is enough of a problem that there is a whole section of accessories that promise to control or eliminate the tangling.
There are even so-called “tangle-free” designs that are flat, or are designed like a zipper, whatever. If human nature proves one thing, it is that anything can get tangled, even if an effort is made to keep things nice and tidy.
Physicists have now determined why this happens, and as with most answers in this universe, they are rooted in math. We are not going to bore you with the equations since it is entirely possible that this goes to a level of calculations most people would just be happy to avoid.
However, researchers did look into the phenomena, and it started by tumbling various cables in a box. “Within seconds,” they found that these cables would form complex knots. From various experiments they were able to build a computer simulation. The simple answer is that cables tend to form coils, and loose ends find their way into weaves (like braiding hair).
The factors governing these events were chronicled in a report published in the Proceedings National Academy of Sciences by the Department of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. To reach their findings, the researchers performed more than 3,400 experiments with varying gauges of cables and watched for more than 120 types of knots to form.
1. Simplified Model
2. Easy math
4. Experiment photos
sources: Discover via DVICE