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The Mechanics of ‘Entanglement’


After consulting with experts, it appears that Irene is on to something; inanimate objects really can entangle themselves!

Imposed Stress – A length of string, rope, hose, etc. is, essentially, cylindrical in shape. Coiling a rope or hose for storage results in one side of the “cylinder” being stretched and the opposite side condensed. This produces opposing forces (stress) that can unravel the coil over time. However, coiling a rope in a figure eight pattern can help to compensate for theses forces, reducing the chance that the coil of rope will loosen or become “entangled.”

Shape Memory – Each of the materials used in the construction of a rope, hose, wire, etc. has its own “shape memory” imposed upon these materials during the manufacturing process. During usage, this can result in movement of these materials (especially twisting) as they seek to return to their original shape.

Environmental Changes – Variations in temperature or humidity can change the length and/or diameter of a cable, hose, rope, etc., which produces internal forces. These forces can, over time, cause coiled materials to loosen.

Mechanical Forces – A container (box, drawer, etc.) in which materials are stored may be subject to movement, vibration or other external forces which can be conveyed to the contents inside. If the stored materials have a linear construction, entanglement can result.

Entropy – There is a natural tendency of atomic structures to become less “organized” over time. Given eons of time, everything will become entangled!