PICKENS COUNTY — The promise of Spring’s arrival brings many traditions to people across the country. Some go on cleaning binges for their house, some plant their gardens and flowers and some … well … some try to balance an egg.
The vernal equinox, also known as the first day of spring, is Monday. And according to tradition, during this day the earth will be perfectly in-line with the sun.
So perfect in fact, that equal amounts of sunlight will reach the Earth’s northern and southern hemispheres — creating a perfect “balance” that allows an egg to stand, unaided, on its end.
The story has been around for a long time and is most often attributed to a 1945 issue of Life magazine.
In the story, a reporter — who was on assignment in China — saw a whole bunch of people balancing eggs as part of a celebratory ritual that marked the beginning of Spring.
The story took off, the legend grew and before you knew it — people across America thought you could balance an egg on the equinox.
There was only one problem: The Chinese have never observed the beginning of Spring in conjunction with the equinox — it’s celebrated a full six weeks beforehand.
Nevertheless, the story continues to spread and every year thousands of people will attempt to balance an egg on that “magic” day.
Some will succeed.
But here’s the thing, those that do manage the feat will have not achieved the seemingly impossible because of some cosmic balance, but rather more likely due to a nice stable surface and really steady hands.
According to well, science, yes you can balance an egg on the equinox but you can also do it any other day of the year. It’s just that most people don’t bother to try on any other day.
In 1984, an astronomer named Frank D. Ghino went so far as to publish research on balancing eggs.
“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,” said Ghino.
His study stated that although eggs have many bumps and irregularities, with patience some of them could be made to balance virtually every day.
On the other hand, some of the eggs would never balance.
Ghino concluded that the mood and persistence of the balancer has a “major effect on the balancing rate.”
“If one is impatient or nervous, the rate is low,” he said. Ghino also found that the percentage of eggs he was able to balance improved over time, bringing him to the conclusion that at least once adage in our country holds truth:
Practice makes perfect.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.