Want to impress your friends by balancing an egg on the Vernal Equinox? It's possible, but you have more than one day to get it done. Here's how...
Urban legends are a dime a dozen when it comes to Mother Nature and her seasonal quirks. Case in point: The old egg-balancing theory, which states that you can balance a raw egg on its end only on the spring (vernal) and autumn equinoxes. Also, according to Chinese folklore, standing an egg on its end during either equinox promotes good luck.
This year, the Spring Equinox occurs on March 20 -- that's when the Earth's axis tilts neither near nor away from the Sun: Instead, the Sun is directly above the equator.
According to Kristi Concannon, associate professor of physics at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and an astronomer by training, this egg-balancing theory is far from the truth. The reason it's false? You can actually balance an egg any day of the year. One of the first things a graduate professor had her and fellow classmates do at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was to test this theory. It was the day after the Spring Equinox, she recalls, and the students were told to line up their eggs. Amazingly, they all balanced with ease, therefore refuting the legend.
"You could balance an egg right now and it's certainly not the equinox," says Concannon. "Maybe somebody once balanced an egg on the equinox and then the myth got started?"
Say you do want to try and balance an egg during the equinox -- or any other time of year. Concannon suggests hard-boiling that egg first. It's more difficult to keep a liquid yoke still. Another tip: "It's easier to balance the egg on the round end than the pointy end," she says. "If you were to look really close at an egg, there are little bumps. These little bumps act like little legs." Who knew?
Still, it intrigues a lot of people, particularly during the month of March when this urban legend hits the airwaves and social-media networks like clockwork. Would you try this trick this month?
See how it's done in this video! (Hint: Instead of boiling the egg, this video suggests a raw egg and plenty of persistence.)