On Standing Brooms

The other day the wife-unit showed me a picture of a broom that was standing on its own by its bristles. She said that people were posting them on Facebook saying that it was caused by a phenomenon associated with the Spring Equinox.

broom-stand-1.jpg

A bit dubious, I ran to the laundry room and grabbed a broom. The first broom I tried to balance didn’t work because (I thought) the broom was newish and the bristles were too stiff and it was too small. I went back and grabbed a different broom and tried it. The second broom had a bigger head and is older and more worn than the first. Without too much trouble I was able to get that broom to stand up on its own.

This is not trick photography nor is it “Photoshopped.” The broom is actually standing on its own. The only thing that was done in Photoshop was to re-size the picture so it would fit on the page. You can get the original, complete with EXIF data here.

I had originally thought that the first broom didn’t balance because it was too new and the bristles were to stiff. My theory was that an older more warn broom would have softer bristles that would spread out to support the broom. While this may still be the case, after looking at both brooms, I found that the older broom actually has stiffer bristles than the newer (green) one.

In fact the newer broom (a dollar store special) has significantly softer bristles than the older one; it can’t even support its own weight. I also think that the size of the broom head may play a role in being able to get it to balance. I think you actually need a broom that has bristles stiff enough to hold it up but not so stiff that they don’t spread out to support the broom laterally.

So What?

Broom standing seems to be a relativity recent offshoot of the old Equinox egg balancing hoopla. The claim with the eggs is that during the Spring Equinox there is some special gravitational mojo going on that allows one to balance an egg on its end. In reality, with a little trial and error you can get an egg to balance on its own any day of the year. It has noting to do with the Equinox. The standing broom is the same thing. It’s a cheap parlor trick. Noting more.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • None of the planets, not even the Moon, exert enough gravitational force to cause eggs or brooms to stand on end.

  • You’ll note that the Spring Equinox for 2012 is March 20th. If broom standing is related to the Equinox how then was I able to get my broom to stand on March 10th?

  • If you look at my picture above you’ll note that it’s showing the profile of the broom and on the left side you can see bristles sticking out that look to be helping prop the broom up. This might be why all the pictures that I’ve seen show the face of the broom, rather than the profile.

  • I actually had to work to get the broom to balance. Unlike what many are claiming, it didn’t just stand there when I let go of it, it was more like playing a game of Jenga.

  • I’ve heard that new brooms work best but I had better success getting an older broom to balance.

I think that this kind of stuff is important to debunk. It’s a fun trick but that’s it. It’s just just a broom balancing on its bristles. There is no need to invoke pseudo-scientific drivel to explain this “phenomenon” and to do so is disingenuous.

I See Your Standing Broom and Raise You A Floating Broom

After I posted my standing broom picture to my Facebook with a short explanation a friend replied: “Call me when you make it float.”

Challenge accepted:

Adam ByersComment