It seems like every year, during the spring equinox, some local news show finds themselves with a slow news day, so they send their van out with a bunch of eggs to a local elementary school to test the theory that you can only balance an egg on its end on the equinox. We get some cute video of a bunch of kids, eyes squinting in concentration, and tongues sticking out, as they attempt the feat. At least some of them always succeed. Myth Confirmed!
Even as a kid, I was always bemused by this. The story is that you can only do it on the equinox (March 20th, or September 23rd) because the sun is directly over the equator, so it's tidal forces are "lined up." Given that I've mostly lived between 40 and 50 degrees off the equator, I could never see how that actually helped things. And what about the moon? It's tidal influence is stronger then the suns. Why don't we have to wait for a equinox during an eclipse?
Of course, who could argue? There's the evidence right there on the TV: eggs balancing on end. It was the my first exposure to confirmation bias. The myth states that you can balance an egg on its end only on the equinox. To really test it, need to also try balancing an egg on other days. Maybe balancing an egg is just as possible on any given day.
I always wanted to do the test, but alway forgot about it by the next morning. I haven't seen any of those news broadcasts since I stopped watching local TV news, and figured maybe the myth had rightfully died.
Yesterday was the winter solstice, and something reminded me of that old myth. I was feeling a little impish, so I sent out this tweet.
Happy winter solstice. Did you know you can balance an egg in its point today? Try it!
I figured it would either be a good joke among us other ovo-equinox nonbelievers. Instead it got somebody to test the exact opposite of the myth. @ChristineCarr stepped up to the challenge and posted this picture.
All I could say was:
@ChristineCarr Way to go! Don’t let anyone tell you it can only be done on the equinox. We have proof!
While I'd spent the day running around wrapping and putting the last touch on hand made christmas presents, and taking care of a sick wife and entertaining a child, and other menial domestic duties, Christine had performed a valuable scientific experiment, busting the myth of the equinox egg balancing trick.
But then things got strange. Others started chiming in.
Happy Winter Solstice the day when you can balance an egg on it's end.
So you know how you're supposed to be able to balance an egg on the #WinterSolstice? You can tell I'm bored.
On each solstice, it is said that you can balance an egg on its head. You have to try it!
Each tweet came with a picture of a well-balanced egg. There were even tweets to well-known TV and Radio skeptics @profbriancox and @daraobriain. Oh the embarassment. What have I done? This myth doesn't even have some hand-wavy physics based non-explaination that you can attack. Bows head in shame and walks slowly off the stage.