One of the key benefits of social media seems to be its ability to get people to do fairly dangerous and definitely stupid things. While not quite as foolish as eating detergent pods, a recent craze apparently involves building a pyramid out of milk crates and attempting to walk up one side and down the other. Though it’s not my bag, if you’re a fan of watching people do themselves harm, TikTok is a great resource.

What’s more interesting though, is understanding why this is so difficult. Wired spoke with engineer and former NASA researcher Nehemiah Mabry, who explained the physics, and why unsupported columns are so unstable.

Next we will look at the physics of beaning, which seem messier but a lot safer.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.