It’s friction, baby

By Kimberly Clark, Science Tuesday Editor

With the semester coming to a close and with finals just around the corner, it’s finally time to crack open your books and actually read them.

Or you could try this science trick instead. It’s up to you.

I’ll admit it. I was a disbeliever at first. So, of course, I did as any good science nerd would and carried out an experiment. I pulled out my anthropology and writing books, dusted them off a bit and followed the directions on the video.

And, to my amazement, it worked. It was hands down the best use of my books to date. Even my roommate got in on the fun and tried to help me pull the books apart.

We were unsuccessful.

So what’s the secret behind this trick?

Any good physics enthusiast would know that the answer is friction. In case you have forgotten what you learned in your high school physics class, friction is a force between two objects that opposes motion.

A car will stop when the driver presses on the brakes because of the friction between the brakes and the wheels. If the road is wet, the car will slide a bit before coming to a complete stop because the wet surface is smoother than a dry surface which means less friction.

But don’t get me wrong, liquids and gases do offer some friction. Think about a boat gliding through the waves or an airplane soaring in the sky.

In the case of my anthropology and writing books, the pages of the two books rubbed against each other to create enough friction to keep me and roommate from pulling the books apart. Keep in mind that the friction between only two sheets of paper is basically nonexistent. So when you try this trick for yourself, make sure you interleave as many pages as possible.

Then do as the man in the video says, and you can even bet someone money that he or she cannot pull the books apart. Then go buy yourself something nice.

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