Brain Teaser

Question

Charlie hangs a string horizontally between two walls and uses an identical string to hang weights vertically. As he adds weights, the tensions in both strings increase.

Which string will break first?

a. Horizontal String!
b. Vertical String!
c. Both will break at the same time


Answer

a. The Horizontal String

The strain on the vertical string is the same throughout the entire string, while the strain on the horizontal string will be focused around a single point. Since the tension on that point will be greater than any other point on the vertical string, and either string will break when a point on that string gets to a certain tension, the horizontal string will reach that certain tension first and break.


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