Sept. 22 marks the end of summer and beginning of fall, making it the fall equinox. Rumor has it that on this day, you will be able to balance an egg in an upright position without having anything hold it in place. Pretty strange, right? Who thought of this, where did this idea come from, and can you really balance an egg on the fall equinox? It seems pretty far fetched, but here's why you might be able to try the science experiment.
Cosmic events are so interesting. To think that because an event is happening way out there in our solar system, it can potentially cause crazy phenomena such as egg balancing is kind of nuts. According to a video produced by National Geographic, equinoxes occur twice a year. One that welcomes the spring in March, and one in September marking the beginning of fall. So on Sept. 22, we will experience the fall — or autumnal — equinox marking the end of summer and beginning of the fall season. The word equinox refers to equal day and night. Meaning, on the equinox, the daytime hours are equal to the nighttime hours. But what does all this have to do with eggs? I'm glad you asked.
When you research egg balancing practices, you'll find a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to it. This is an actual thing. Apparently egg balancing is an ancient Chinese practice that has somehow made its way over to the United States. But what does this have to do with the equinox, you ask? According to Astro Society's website, there is Chinese folklore connecting egg balancing to lunar and gravitational events such as equinoxes. The theory is that the sun and the earth are so in alignment that you can literally balance an egg on a flat surface. And according to Wikipedia, there are also myths about being able to balance broom sticks and other such objects that you normally find difficult, if not impossible, to balance in normal circumstances.
However, an article written on The Sun's website pointed out that egg balancing has little to do with cosmic events such as equinoxes. How does it work then? As it turns out, being able to balance an egg in an upright position has everything to do with how bumpy the egg's surface is and, well, practice. There is a great video by The Patriot News demonstrating this. So as it turns out, you can actually balance an egg on any day, at any time during the year. There is nothing special about Sept. 22 or the fall equinox that makes it easier to balance an egg or a broom or anything. But don't be too disappointed.
There are still great ways to incorporate this into a science lesson with the kiddos. If you have a science lover at home, you can get them involved in the fun with these experiments from Scholastic and National Geographic Kids. You can also find related articles on The Children's Museum website, as well as other egg experiments from Science-Sparks.com. What a fun way to incorporate this urban legend into a fun activity that you can easily do at home.
So there's nothing special about the fall equinox that will allow us to easily balance an egg. All you need is the right egg and some patience. The good news? You can use this as a fun history lesson and science experiment to do at home with the kids. Get them involved and create some memories while they learn.