The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Happy Solstice!

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 21, 2009

Happy Solstice everyone!  It might seem a strange thing to be celebrating, this specific position of Earth in its orbit around the sun, but we skeptics have our reasons.  This, of course, has to do with the old myth of being able to balance eggs on their ends only during either the vernal (spring) or autumnal equinox – of course, all references are in regards to the northern hemisphere.

But wait, it’s not the equinox, so why bring up this myth now?  To debunk it, of course.  According to adherents of this myth, usually the same folks who are into astrology-related woo, during the equinoxes “things line up cosmically” (probably some misunderstood reference to the fact that the length of day & night are the same), and this should result in the capability to stand eggs on their ends.

The funny thing about this particular myth is that it contains a kernel of truth… you can stand an egg on its end on the equinox, just as you can at any time of the year – even the solstices, as far away from the equinox as you can get.  Case in point, I just balanced three eggs on end in my kitchen…

Solstice Eggs

This supposedly “cosmic event” took me all of five minutes to accomplish – with a little practice, it’s easy to do. To understand why it is that eggs can be balanced in this manner, it is more helpful to look to the science of physics rather than the pseudoscience of astrology – this link at the Bad Astronomy blog explains in more detail.

So, the next time you hear someone make this loony claim, have a little fun with it – whip out the eggs and balance away!

2 Responses to “Happy Solstice!”

  1. […] Looking at the varieties of skepticism, it is clear that there are obvious distinctions to be made between them. One point of difference is in focus. Some focus on psychic predictions, some on common alcoholic beverages, and others on myths involving eggs and orbital mechanics. […]

  2. […] Posted by mattusmaximus on December 24, 2009 **Note: This is essentially a repost of an earlier entry… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: