Life Science NASA sweeps away misinformation over broomstick challenge

NASA sweeps away misinformation over broomstick challenge

The broomstick challenge was a social media hit — but NASA revealed the craze can last all year long. Photo: Getty
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It started with a solitary tweet on Monday, declaring: “NASA said today was the only day a broom can stand up on its own because of the gravitational pull … I didn’t believe it at first but OMG!”

Then came the photos and videos.

Hundreds upon hundreds of them.

The hype was so fanatical, the frenzy eventually trended on Twitter under the hashtag #BroomstickChallenge.

It prompted celebrities and national institutions to get in on the craze.

All of that might sound downright absurd, and that’s because on all accounts it most definitely is.

For starters, why would NASA ever have the desire to say something like that?

Well, for the uninitiated, social media users began sharing clips of their household brooms standing on their bristly end – seemingly as if they were possessed by magic – on a day some proclaimed the world was “perfectly aligned”.

The rabid response was so extreme that it prompted NASA to take out the trash, and sweep away the misinformation.

It turns out the thousands who took part in the challenge could do it any other day.

And no, there is no supposed dramatic fluctuation in gravity that only allows the phenomenon to take place on February 10.

In a nine-second video posted on NASA’s official Twitter account, astronaut Alvin Drew and scientist Sarah Noble revealed there is no special forces at play, because “it’s just physics”.

“Did you do the broomstick challenge yesterday?” Noble asks.

“Well, it turns out, you can do it again today.”

And here’s why.

Brooms can stand on their ends because their centre of gravity falls so low, due to its heavy bottom and wide base of bristles that can support its weight.

The craze itself stemmed from an old wives’ tale that first circulated early last decade, that suggested eggs can only stand on their ends during equinoxes – or when the planet is perfectly aligned.

Again, it reeks of fake news.

So rest assured, broom-havers – you can pull out this little party trick at any time.

Go ahead, try it right now.

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