Why do Christmas lights always get tangled?

Getting into the holiday spirit can be challenging if you’re facing a tangled mess of Christmas lights. It seems that no matter how neatly these twinkling strands are packed away each winter, they somehow end up in a ball of torment the following holiday season. So what causes this mangled mess?

In 2007, researchers published a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (opens in new tab) (PNAS) explaining what causes this headache-inducing phenomenon. For the experiment, they put varying lengths of string inside a box and mechanically shook it so that the strings would get tossed around like a load of laundry in the dryer. They repeated the process more than 3,400 times and noticed that knots began forming within seconds of the box being rotated. Throughout the experiment, more than 120 types of knots formed.

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