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The incredible math behind the lasso

Take a mosey down to the IQ corral.


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Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 10, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 10:34 am CDT


What kind of discipline involves the study of whips, chains and ropes?

Wrong. And shame on you.

The answer is applied mathematics, with a concentration on the physics of what experts call viscous threads and elastic rods.

Researchers in that area of study try to describe, mathematically, the flow of chain in a fountainlike arc out of a beaker, the cracking of a bullwhip — or the Flat Rope trick, one of the easiest examples of what a trick roper can do with a lasso.

Pierre-Thomas Brun, now an instructor in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who just published “An Introduction to the Mechanics of the Lasso” in Proceedings of the Royal Academy A, was pointed toward the subject by his adviser.

Dr. Brun was looking for a topic for his dissertation, and one of his advisers at the University of Paris, Neil M. Ribe, pointed out that very little had been done on the lasso.

Read more at the New York Times.

Photo by Pai Shih/photopin (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 10, 2014, 1:07 pm CDT