Science: The Unridable Bicycle

Hardly anything could be simpler: you hop on, grab the handlebars, press down on a pedal and roll off. Indeed, it is so easy for most people to ride a bicycle that science has hardly bothered to answer a very obvious question: What gives the bicycle its extraordinary stability? Properly curious, a British research chemist named David E.H. Jones decided to do a little backyard experimenting. His plan: to identify the bicycle's essential stabilizing features by building one that completely lacked them. In short, he would construct a totally unridable bicycle.

Easier said than done. First, Chemist Jones tested the common...

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