Archive for October 31st, 2010

Monthly Aphorism: Fundamental Principles of Rope

Two fundamental Principles of Rope:

  1. You cannot push a rope.
  2. If a tangle of rope has one end, it must have at least one other.

The First Principle should be obvious, but all too often I find myself trying to thread a wire through a structure… and eventually realize I’m attempting something that’s isomorphic to pushing a rope. Doesn’t work, never has, never will.

The Second Principle comes in handy with hoses and cables. If you separate the tangle into two parts, any part without an end is topologically either a knot or a loop, but won’t contribute much to the untangling. Conversely, any part with an end can be reduced to a straight section (possibly leading to a tangle in the other part) by fiddling around for a while.