The Broom Challenge: Phenomenon or Hoax?

Samantha Montalbine, Staff Writer

On February 10th, the challenge referred to as the “Broom Challenge” swept away the internet. When searching through Twitter or Snapchat, you probably saw a bunch of brooms miraculously standing up on their own. Questions surrounding why brooms can only stand up on that specific day or how it works quickly arose.

How Did it All Start?
On February 10th, at 3:00 P.M, Twitter user @mikaiylaaaaa had posted a video of her broom standing up on its own, with the caption, “Okay so NASA said today was the only day a broom can stand up on its own because of the gravitational pull…I didn’t believe it at first but OMG! 😭😭😭😭.” The idea that this seemingly miraculous thing can happen only on the day of February 10th made people race to try and photograph their own standing brooms, expressing the shock from people of all ages. I, myself, couldn’t even fall asleep until I tried it with my own, lopsided broom. 

Is it True?
Unfortunately, the rumors aren’t true. While it is possible to stand your broom up without anything holding it up, you can do it any day. Although there was no real evidence or proof of NASA’s reported claim that brooms can stand up only on February 10th, because of the Earth’s gravitational pull or the planetary alignment, the mere view of a broom standing was enough to make people believe. Other than said video, there was no real scientific reasoning behind it in general, or from NASA.

How does it work?
As proved 8 years earlier, a broom can stand up on its own, not because of the Earth’s specific gravitational pull but rather the broom’s center of gravity. Its center of gravity is low, resting directly over it’s bristles. So, if you were to spread the bristles out in all directions and make a tripod-like shape, your broom can stand up easily, balanced upright.

Is This the First Time People Tried Balancing their Brooms?

Although both teens and adults were shocked to see brooms stand upright, this isn’t the first time everyone tried balancing their brooms. Specifically, back in 2012, people believed that due to the alignment of the stars and the fact that Jupiter and Venus were extremely close, brooms could stand upright. However, the theory was quickly debunked on the news by Betsy Kling, Chief Meteorologist at 3News.

In addition, people believed that brooms, and even eggs, can stand upright due to the vernal and autumnal equinox, supposedly when magic is to occur. The rumors arose from an urban myth that claimed that during the yearly equinox, when daylight hours were equal to night time hours, eggs can stand upright, symbolizing fertility and a balance in nature. While the Chinese rumors normally arise around the time of the spring on March 20th or the autumn equinox, September 22nd, the trend came early.

Although the shocking yearly trend continues,  an astronomer named Frank D. Ghigo had personally studied the phenomenon, proving you can not only balance eggs on the equinox, but also any other day  if you manage to get the yolk to the bottom of the egg.

Even though the “Broom Challenge” had temporarily taken over the internet on February 10th, the rumor isn’t true!  There is no gravitational pull allowing brooms to stand up alone on that day only, but rather every day.