Can You Balance an Egg on the Autumnal Equinox?

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From Scholastic–Legend has it that on the spring equinox, you can balance an egg in an upright position thanks to the Earth’s position relative to the sun. Each season, this idea seems to pop up on the news, in social media, and in schools. We wondered … is it really true? So we reached out to Harry E. Keller, Ph.D., CEO of Smart Science Education Inc., for his scientific opinion. Here, three things to know about the equinox and eggs:

The equinox, explained: The autumnal and vernal equinoxes occur when the Earth is tilted parallel to its path of motion around the Sun, which makes the length of the day and the night exactly the same. The idea that an egg could balance on this day comes from the thought that since the Sun and Moon are equidistant from the earth, the pull of gravity is equalized and therefore an egg is less likely to fall over. “This is simply not true,” says Keller. “Even were there such a solar influence, it would only work in one place at a time, and that place would be moving at a speed on the surface of the Earth of about 1,000 miles per hour at the equator. You would not have time to balance your egg!”

A balancing act: Is it possible to balance an egg in an upright position? The key is finding an egg with a yolk centered in the shell. “We stand upright by keeping our own personal centers of gravity within the bounds of our feet on the ground,” says Keller. “This is why standing on two feet is easier than standing on only one foot.”

The bottom line: This egg-balancing trick is just an old wives’ tale. There is no gravitational change during the equinox that would help an egg balance. Standing an egg on its end is something just about anyone can do any day of the year. The feat simply takes the right egg, a little practice, and a lot of patience.

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