A while back a friend called me. The conversation went something like this:
"Hey Liz, did you know that you can stand a broom on its bristles today?"
"You can! Really! The equator is aligned today. It won't be again for a few hundred years I heard. So just today you can actually balance a broom. We've had one standing up in our kitchen for, like, three hours now." I'm thinking, isn't the equator aligned every day? But instead I say,
"Yes, but you have to line up the bristles so they are facing north and south. That's the only way you can do it. It is so cool Liz - you've got to try it."
"OK, I'll give it a try. I don't know about the "aligned-equator" thing, the science teacher in me thinks that sound like a bunch of hooey, but I'll go give it a try."
So the Doubting Thomas in me went off to try it. After finding my compass (you know, because I wanted to do it right,) about 35 tries, and about 20 minutes I was able to do it. That broom stood there for a little over two hours - until the cat knocked it down.
Now, I don't think for a minute it had anything to do with equatorial alignment, the alignment of the planets or anything else other than the laws of physics. I think I, along with countless other people, would never stand in the kitchen and spend valuable time trying to get a to balance a broom unless the power of suggestion told me / us it was possible. Though I must admit that I actually had fun trying to get my broom to stand by itself and was quite proud of myself when I actually got it to work.
Now I just need to get the darn thing to sweep by itself and I'll be all set.