An iconic 20-year 'Friends' mystery has finally been solved
If I screamed the word "PIVOT!", what would be the first thing that comes to your mind?
Like I even have to ask! The pivot scene in Friends remains of the most iconic scenes bits of footage to come out of the American sitcom and we thank God (and NBC) every single day for handing it to us.
If by some odd occurrence, your memory isn't clear on the episode in question, allow me to fill you in on the finer details of the plot. The lead-up sees Ross decide to decorate his new apartment, going couch shopping to purchase the perfect sofa.
Refusing to pay for the delivery cost, he asks Rachel to help him carry it all the way back to his apartment, but trouble strikes when the pair get stuck bringing it up the stairs and have to enlist Chandler to help them. Soon after, the friends realise that not even three people can move a couch upstairs when the stairwell of a building is just too small.
That's what we thought, anyway. However, almost 20 years after the episode aired, a mathematician has revealed that the sofa could have made it up the stairs, and not ended up cut in half like it did on the show - and showed us exactly how this would have worked.
On the request of houseshare site SpareRoom.co.uk, data science consultant, Caroline Zunckel PhD, analysed the famous scene in meticulous detail, estimating the dimensions of the stairs and the couch (this included running a staggering 10,000 simulations based on different measurements) to produce an equation and methodology.
The master equation that Ross could have used to solve his problem?
Angle of vertical tilt (T) = 44.15064 -11.94274xWS (Width of the Stairwell) + 8.69119xWC (Width of the Couch) + 3.65961xLC (Length of the Couch)
If you (like the rest of us) are not quite getting what the equation means, let Zunckel explain in simpler terms:
Step 1: First Ross should have measured the width of the stairs (WS), and the width (WC) and length (LC) of the couch.
Step 2: Ross then should have used the equation to find out the minimum angle (T) that the couch would need to be tilted upwards to move around the 90-degree corner of the stairwell.
Step 3: After carrying the couch to the corner Ross, Rachel and Chandler reach a point where they can’t move any more. When this happens Ross, Rachel and Chandler should have rested the couch against the corner.
Step 4: Here the friends should have tilted the couch vertically towards the ceiling until the angle between the stairs and the base of the couch was greater than or equal to T. At this point the vertical length of the couch would be smaller than the horizontal length and they should have been able to successfully pivot the couch round the corner without it getting stuck.
Step 5: Once round the corner Ross, Rachel and Chandler should have moved the couch back to its original orientation and the carried it up to the flat.
So, it was all about tilting after all! Thanks, Caroline and Spare Room! I wouldn't tell Ross, Rachel and Chandler you figured out an easier way if I was you though...