Life loves to give you lemons and the irony is that it doesn’t just stop at one problem; it loves piling them up for you. When you are struggling against all the odds and when you are filled to the brim and decide to plug in your earphones to find escape to the soothing world of music, you are presented with nature’s biggest mystery ever; tangled earphones. We all have been there where we spend countless minutes trying to untangle the earphones that we just placed in our pocket. The phenomena is so common that a group of physicists decided to study it and have come up with an explanation (sort of) regarding why do the earphones become tangled.
As expected; a number of factors are involved in why the knots appear on the cords that were perfectly fine just a minute ago. The agitation to which the cord is subjected counts as well and the team spent quite some time in placing strings into a box and shaking it around. The whole process was repeated about 3,415 times (talk about being thorough). Afterwards, they spent some time to observe the knots and classified them into 120 different types of prime knots that have up to seven crossings.
After all this hard work, they subjected these types of knots to mathematical theory and employed the use of statistics in order to find out how the string’s length coupled with agitation resulted in the knots. What the physicists discovered can be stated in simple words in the following manner; strings with longer lengths shaken for a longer time result in larger number of knots. One may very well question the stiffness and the diameter of the string and the answer is yes, they do play a part in it but the primary factors are length of chord and the agitation time.
What the group also discovered was that the strings shorter than 1.5’ had less number of knots for the same amount of agitation time whereas the probability of knots increased with increase in length and eventually, the probability of a long cord that is flexible has a 100% probability of getting tangled when agitated.
So yeah, sadly, there is no way to prevent your earphones from becoming tangled like anything and the most that you can do is to invest for wireless ear buds that are capable of providing the same (or even better) quality while saving you from the mess. You can also use a rubber band around your earphones after you have used them.