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Tablecloth Chaos

There’s nothing magical about pulling a tablecloth out from under a table setting without disturbing any of the items. It’s a trick of inertia and friction. Following Newton’s First Law of Physics, the dishes will tend to stay put unless an external force acts on them. To pull off the tablecloth trick, heavy dishes work the best because they have more inertia, or impetus, to stay put.

We know the dishes will stay put unless an external force acts on them, so we need to reduce the external force acting on the dishes—enough to keep them from being affected by the pull of the tablecloth. A very slick tablecloth (without a hem) will reduce the friction between the cloth and the dishes, and a quick pull will reduce the amount of time the cloth and the dishes have to interact.

Put those together and you won’t be eating your dinner to-go.

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