Wedging a piece of folded paper under a leg is one way to steady a wobbly table. But did you know it's possible to stop the wobble using nothing but mathematics? That's the surprising takeaway of a charming new video posted on Numberphile's YouTube channel.
"Mathematicians never have unstable tables," the video's smiling host, University of Bonn mathematician Dr. Matthias Kreck, says in German-accented English. "They know what to do."
What to do turns out to be surprisingly simple: just rotating the table in a certain way does the trick, as the video's playful animated portions make clear.
Things get a bit complicated when the good professor takes viewers through the mathematical proof for why the trick works for four-legged tables on an uneven surface. But given how impressed your friends will be when you use the trick next time you're all seated at an unstable table, the video is worth watching even if your math skills are a bit, um, wobbly.
As one commenter wrote, "This is really good... I wish math was taught like this in school."