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Untangling the mechanics of knots


Reis’ colleague, French theoretician Basile Audoly, originally took on the problem of relating a knot’s topology and mechanical forces. In previous work, Audoly, with his own colleague Sébastien Neukirch, had developed a theory based on observations of tightening a very simple, overhand knot, comprising only one twist. They then verified the theory with a slightly more complex knot with two twists. The theory, they concluded, should predict the forces required to tighten even more complex knots.

However, when Reis, together with his students Khalid Jawed and Peter Dieleman, performed similar experiments with knots of more than two twists, they found that the previous theory failed to predict the force needed to close the knots. Reis and Audoly teamed up to develop a more accurate theory for describing the topology and mechanics of a wider range of knots.

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Knot good. Great!

Kinda cool to learn that maths has not been applied yet to a truly ancient everyday thing like knots!

Yes! Maths adding new value!

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