Broom-Balancing at Equinox: For Real?
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A bee flies from plant to plant while feeding on a flowering Anigozanthus, also known as Kangaroo Paws, at a nursery in San Gabriel, California on March 25, 2013.
A sailing ship is visible on the Bodensee lake near Ueberlingen, Germany, on May 1, 2013. Flowers at the lakeside are visible in the front.
Visitors enjoy watching the Blue Nemophila flowers bloom during the Golden Week holidays, at Hitachinaka Kaihin Park on May 5, 2013 in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan.
A field of tulips at Magdeburg Börde in Schwaneberg, Germany, on May 3, 2013. Different species of the spring flowers are grown on more than 40 hectars.
A visitor looks at blooms at the Rhododendron Park in Bremen, Germany, on May 10, 2013. Nature is catching up after the unusually long winter. One effect is that rhododendrons normally bloom in succession, but now all of the flowers are blooming at once.
Villagers trim the tulip blossoms at a planting base in Qushui County, Lhasa City, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, May 9, 2013. The seed bulbs of tulip flowers were introduced into Lhasa from Yunnan Province.
Blossoms of a peach tree are visible in a garden in Eichwalde, Germany, on April 29, 2013.
A bee approaches cherry tree blossoms during a sunny spring day at a park in Brussels on April 14, 2013.
A woman meditates under a blooming cherry tree on the edge of the Potomace river in Washington D.C., on April 9, 2013.
A bee sits on a blooming Japanese cherry tree at the castle gardens in Schwetzingen, Germany, on April 15, 2013.
Different colored pansies are grown at a nursery near Kitzingen, Germany, 26 March 2013.
The sun shines through a blooming syringa bush in Berlin, Germany, on May 12, 2013.
The Guinness Book of World Records this spring certified this wisteria vine -- blooming at a Sierra Madre home on March 14, 2013, near Los Angeles -- as the world's largest blossoming plant. The wisteria vine is more than one acre in size and weighs 250 tons. It has more than 1.5 million blossoms every year with 40 blooms per square foot. The branches of this wisteria vine reach an 500 feet long. Horticultural experts have estimated the branches can grow 24 inches in 24 hours. The wisteria vine is a Chinese variety. It was planted in 1894 by William and Alice Brugman.
Blossoms of a Magnolia tree are visible on a sunny day with a clear blue sky in Dresden, Germany, 26 April 2013.
A bee seeks nectar on a ceanothus shrub at the Fullerton Arboretum in California.
White flowers on branches of the North American Cornus 'Florida', Flowering Dogwood.
It’s come to our attention here at DNews that there’s a rash of people claiming to be able to suddenly stand their brooms on end. The brushy end, that is.
Some folks think this has something to do with the coming of spring, or the vernal equinox. The spring equinox is the moment when the sun crosses the equator on its way north, signaling the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of it in the Southern Hemisphere. That happens this year, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, on March 20.
But why would brooms start standing at attention just now, weeks before the actual date? Because people are trying to balance their brooms just now, that’s why. I had visions of brooms worldwide jumping simultaneously upright, but since mine didn’t that couldn’t be it.
If you try to balance an old broom, like the one I use to chase my mean duck into the pond, it won’t work; it’s the wrong shape. If you use a new broom that still has a straight bottom, it’s not hard to get it to stand upright. Here are explicit instructions, if you’re interested, but it took about two seconds for mine to hop to it.
The more interesting — and much older — Case of the Balancing Whatever is the egg, which is the classic item to try to balance around the equinox, especially if one believes that the forces of the solar system are perfectly in balance at this time of year.
It’s thought that the Chinese were the originators of spring egg balancing, possibly because of the egg’s obvious connections to the life, newness and fertility that accompany springtime. It really would be cool if such a perfectly oval object were able to miraculously balance only at this time of year.
Many cultures celebrate the egg at this time of year, not least the Western tradition of hiding Easter eggs (even if most of them are plastic in the United States).
Hence a real scientist’s attempt to shed light on the practice of egg balancing in 1984. Apparently, no one since has found it necessary to officially replicate the experiment of Frank D. Ghigo, because his is the first and last I could find.
Ghigo took four dozen eggs, which he tried to balance on their larger ends between Feb. 27 and April 3, 1984, according to a 1987 Associated Press article in The Victoria Advocate.
Indeed, he was able to balance some of them every day of the experiment. His success at balancing the eggs did increase as time went on, though Ghigo put it down to having so much egg-balancing practice.
“The upshot is that, as far as I can tell, there isn’t too much relationship between astronomical phenomena and balancing eggs. It is basically a function of the shape of the egg and the surface,” Ghigo told the AP.
As for all of the broom/egg balancers out there: If you could manage to balance your broom on the pointy end or a plastic egg, now that really would be something.