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How to Tie Your Shoes

When I learned how to tie my shoes as a kid, I was taught what I now know is a granny knot. The problem with this knot is that, at least for me, it came undone easily, causing me to have to re-tie it several times a day. Eventually I started double-tying my shoes, making tying and untying them a total pain, and a little goofy-looking. Why didn't other people's shoes come untied? What secret did they know? Was I walking wrong?? Well, it took three decades, but Adam Lisagor of the men's style show Put This On blew my mind by explaining the reef knot -- a stronger, flat-lying knot that stays tied. It's very similar to the granny knot, you just change the direction of one loop and your life will change. Thank you, internet.

Here's a TED Talk -- yes, really, an actual TED Talk (albeit just three minutes long) showing exactly how this works. Enjoy:

See also: Put This On episode 2, embedded below. It's a ten-minute show about shoes, including a brief segment explaining the reef knot at the 8:15 mark.

Put This On, Episode 2: Shoes from Put This On on Vimeo.

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Watch How to Make a Compass
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Let's say the mega-earthquake comes and you're stranded with just some MacGyver-style bits and bobs. If you've got a magnet and a little knowledge, you can make a compass that reliably points north. Below, check out a vintage segment from Curiosity Show explaining how to do it—and a bit on the science of why compasses work.

In the clip below, presenter Deane Hutton shows three methods involving a mirror, cork, a pin, a drinking straw, and a circular magnet (in different combinations). There's something for everyone!

Incidentally, one of the key issues in making a compass is knowing which end of a magnet points north and which points south. One YouTuber asked how to determine this, if it's not already marked—as might be the case in a survival situation. Decades after the clip aired, Hutton chimed in via YouTube comments to answer:

Wait till the Sun is about to set. Stand with your right shoulder toward the setting Sun. You are now facing South. Suspend the magnet and let it swing freely. When the magnet stops swinging, the end pointing South is the South Pole of the magnet. Deane.

Science is cool. Anyway, enjoy:

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Watch How To Make a Self-Starting Siphon Using Bendy Straws
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In this vintage video segment from Curiosity Show, we learn about self-starting siphons. These things start a flow of water without the user having to squeeze a pump or suck on a tube, which is a distinct benefit.

In the segment, we also observe the limitations of self-starting siphons. Because the act of submersion starts the flow, we're limited to siphoning water out of very full vessels. But still, this could be useful for a home aquarium, which is one of a thousand scenarios in which you don't want to use a mouth-primed siphon.

The best part of the segment is when presenter Rob Morrison shows how to make your own self-starting siphon. File this under "Handy stuff you can do with bendy straws." Tune in and enjoy this simple physics demo:

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