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Author Topic: Parlor trick that only women can do
Artemis
The First USA Noel


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Hi all, sorry if this is in the wrong forum...I didn't think it was quite science. And I couldn't really think of any other place for it.

There's this trick that *supposedly* only women can do. (I read about it as a child in this book of magic/parlor tricks, and it came up on an episode of "All in the Family.") You're supposed to stand three feet away from a fall, bend over, put your head against the wall, and try to stand up while lifting a chair. If you're a woman, you do it successfully, but if you're a man, you can't get up.

Well...I'm female, and I can't do it! So that right there might just invalidate it. (Unless I'm doing it completely wrong.)

So...Is it generally true (i.e., I'm just doing it wrong?) If so, why/how does it work? And, bottom line, do I need to trade in my extra X chromosome?

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cubbie
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OOO, we did this in sicence class one time my senior year. I could do it, none of guys could. I think it has something to do with the center of gravity. But I dont really remember because I was too busy being happy about graducation to pay attention:P

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Sweet Home California
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by Artemis:
and it came up on an episode of "All in the Family.")

I remember that episode!

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glass papaya
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I remember an explanation for this, but it's been a long time.

First, it is three footsteps from the wall (heel to toe), not three feet.

The theory is that a woman has smaller feet than a man, so she will be closer to the wall than a man will be. She will not have to lean over as far before her head touches the wall, so she is in a better position to stand back up. This effect is particularly exaggerated if she is significantly shorter than any men who try it.

Of course, this could be complete bull. But I do remember it. [Wink]

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DougW
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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QUOTE: You're supposed to stand three feet away from a fall, bend over, put your head against the wall, and try to stand up while lifting a chair. If you're a woman, you do it successfully, but if you're a man, you can't get up.
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I am probably just particularly dense today...could someone explain in more detail what exactly you are supposed to do? (type slowly for my benefit [dunce] )

I am a short male, 5'5", and want to try this out to test the center of gravity theory but honestly don't know what I am supposed to do.

I get you stand 3 footsteps from the wall, and put your head against it. Then I am lost with the chair and standing up.

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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Sorry about the three footsteps mistake. I did try it out with three footsteps right after I saw the episode (and it didn't work). For the record, I'm about 5'2.

DougW, while you're bending over with your head pressed up against the wall, you should have a chair placed on the ground underneath you, parallel to the wall. Then try to stand up and pick up the chair. Good luck and godspeed.

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Sylvanz
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You place one set of toes against the wall, then place your other set of toes against the heel of the foot against the wall, then remove the foot against the wall and place those toes against the heel of the non-wall foot. Set both feet together have an assistant place the chair between you and the wall, bend over and place your head against the wall, reach down and pick up the chair, then attempt to straighten up. In our family it worked for all five of us the three females could straighten up and the two males could not.

P&LL, Syl'Saw the original airing which is when we all tried it'vanz

Artemis, do you have large feet for your height? I tried it for the first time in (I don't really want to think how many) years and I can still do it easily. Also, my daughter is my height but has large feet...she can do it with more difficulty. My 19 year old son tried it...he did it sort of. He stood there red faced for five min. and finally managed to stand up. My younger son could do it easily, and their friend didn't even struggle he just said, "I'm done I can't do it." [lol]

Syl

Syl

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glass papaya
Jingle Bell Hock


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I will add that you may not dip your head down or push off the wall in the attempt. Just a fluid movement to standing. And pick up the chair before you try to stand.
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DougW
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Thanks for the explanation. I tried it, and I cannot do it, not even close.

As I said above, I am only 5'5", so there must be some other explanation than height.

I will ask my wife to try it out when she gets home. She is 5'11", so if she can do it, then there really must be something else to it beside height.

ETA: Regarding F Minor's post right below mine, I also tried it according to Sylvan's instructions except I did stand three steps out from the wall. I tried it again without a chair, with my arms just hanging down. At two steps from the wall I could easily stand. At three steps from the wall I couldn't stand even without the chair.

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F minor
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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I'm male and I could (just about) do it the way Sylvanz said. Although that's technically two feet from the wall, not three. I tried it with three and couldn't stand up even without the chair...
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LemonLimeade
Deck the Malls


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About 15 years ago my husband and I were watching All in the Family, and that episode was on. We remembered it from our childhood, when it was first on, and said "Well we've always wondered is it true or not?" So we tried it. We were both able to stand up.

So we wrote it off. I don't know if it holds generally true or not. [Confused]

ETA: Just tried it again and I can't do it now. Neither can my husband or son. Guess I'll try my daughter when I see her.

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Lainie
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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IIRC, it's not only foot size, but the fact that women have a lower center of gravity. My brothers and I tried it when I was a kid -- I could do it, they couldn't, but they were (and still are!) much taller than me.

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Oceanic Aura
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Am I the only one who expected this thread to involve ping-pong balls?

Anyway...They featured this on an episode of MASH, but hecked if I can remember the details.

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"Are we talking misdemeanor trouble or squeal like a pig trouble?"

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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I googled center of gravity and women, and found this link http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/2001-03/984940269.Ph.r.html


Does this mean I have a higher center of gravity than most other women?

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LemonLimeade
Deck the Malls


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Well, we tried it with my daughter and her boyfriend just now, and she can do it easily, he can't do it at all. Their feet are exactly the same size.

Now I'm really pissed that we didn't have a video camera for the time my husband did it. Since he can't do it now lol. Of course I can't now either, who knows why.

Well it's still a very amusing thing to try among a group who hasn't seen it before; especially if you don't explain ahead of time that it's sex-based. The boyfriend saw my daughter do it and naturally assumed it would be a snap...then laughed when he couldn't even move. It is a fun parlor trick [Smile]

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onein6billion
Deck the Malls


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We did this in the lit. class I'm taking now. The teacher got two people, one male and one female, of comparable height and the woman could do it but the guy couldn't and he really did try. We thought he was going to hurt himself. I had never heard of such a thing before that particular class.

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Quttaus
I Saw Three Shipments


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I remember seeing Jack Palance and his sister do this trick on the old Ripley's Believe it or Not! show, back in the early 80's. She could do it, he couldnt.

The way the trick was explained to me, the differences in, um, anatomy are what give women the lower center of gravity. Dont know if thats true though.

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Etienne
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quote:
Originally posted by Oceanic Aura:
Am I the only one who expected this thread to involve ping-pong balls?

No, I honnestly expected the OP to start with "So, this one time, in Thailand..."
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Spamamander in a pear tree
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quote:
Originally posted by Artemis:
If you're a woman, you do it successfully, but if you're a man, you can't get up.


Erm... call me naive but isn't the man supposed to be the one who gets it up?

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"There is a race between mankind and the universe. Mankind is trying to build bigger, better, faster, and more foolproof machines. The universe is trying to build bigger, better, and faster fools. So far the universe is winning." -Albert Einstein

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medtchva
Deck the Malls


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I've also heard it has to do with the difference in back muscles of men and women.
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snapdragonfly
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If I remember correctly, and woo this was a long time ago, we tried this in my hs biology class.

Pretty much all of the time, girls can do this and guys can't, if you are doing it correctly.

I don't remember why either. I thought it was something to do with the muscles also.

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musicgeek
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There was a cottage industry in 19th c. America of women using this anatomical discrepancy to give the illusion of supernatural powers:

The "Georgia Wonder" phenomenon

Some of their tricks work equally well for men, but the female center of gravity gives an advantage in certain situations (like the Archie Bunker chair experiment). This center of gravity effect is, of course, based on a generalization -- body types differ, and there will be exceptions to the rule based on height, weight, musculature, etc.

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Troberg
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I saw this on TV some years ago, and there they claimed that it was something about hip construction (men usually don't have to squeeze children through their genitals, thank god) and different proportions. In my mind, this translate to different weight distribution, but also a different bending at the hips, which also affects weight distribution in a bent over position.

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/Troberg

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Xia
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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
I saw this on TV some years ago, and there they claimed that it was something about hip construction (men usually don't have to squeeze children through their genitals, thank god)

YOMANK, Troberg... And also a new brain, if I cannot wash that image out of this one... [Razz]


So, is it a consensus that this is due to center of gravity?

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IZaNaMI
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quote:
Originally posted by Oceanic Aura:
[QB] Am I the only one who expected this thread to involve ping-pong balls?


No, you're not the only one ... [Eek!]
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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
YOMANK, Troberg... And also a new brain, if I cannot wash that image out of this one...
What image? Something like an empty banana peel?

quote:
So, is it a consensus that this is due to center of gravity?
That and the hip construction. I can imagine a woman sticking her behind out more when she bends over (in fact, I imagine that a lot, most of the time they even do it nude when I imagine it, so I consider myself something of an expert on the subject) due to different hips, which changes both leverage and centre of gravity.

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/Troberg

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Xia:
So, is it a consensus that this is due to center of gravity?

And the fact that men have heavier shoulders, so they have more weight to lift.

But maybe that's the same thing.

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
And the fact that men have heavier shoulders, so they have more weight to lift.
Which, in many cases, probably is more than compensated for by women's breasts, even if the different leverage is calculated into it.

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/Troberg

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Unusual Elfin Lights
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As someone who was a male figure skater I can attest to the centre of gravity difference in males.

I was skating throughout my youth and into my teens. My partner was the same age as me and she and I had the same training up until we were about 12. At that age our training differed. Hers became easier because her centre of gravity shifted lower due to her hitting puberty and the redistribution of weight into her hips. My training focused more on keeping my balance, as my centre of gravity went up, commensurate with the increase in proportion to my manly shoulders.

Her skating improved markedly, mine suffered.

Another experiment that you can do that better illustrates this is highlighted at Science East here in New Brunswick.

Put a coin on the floor. Now kneel so that you are bent over the coin with your hands on the coin. Your hands should be directly below your forehead. Remove your hands and place them behind your back. Touch your forehead to the coin. Women can do it, men topple over.

Even women with larger breasts (unless surgically enhanced) have proportionate weight on their hips.

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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What about men with a huge beer belly?

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/Troberg

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
What about men with a huge beer belly?

Probably not enough stomach muscles to help with the lift.

Though I confess to experimenting with my 6 months pregnant belly, and having no problems whatsoever.

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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Artemis
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Sylvanz:

Artemis, do you have large feet for your height? I tried it for the first time in (I don't really want to think how many) years and I can still do it easily.

Sorry I forgot to respond to this! No, I don't...I actually have really small feet--I wear a size six shoe. (So small that people tend to comment on how tiny my shoes look, but I digress.) They're pretty proportionate to my height. I'm just barely 5'2, weigh about 100 lbs (just in case any of this is relevant!).

If anyone wants to wager any other guesses as to why I can't do it, feel free. (The more creative the better!)

As for the rest of you, I do feel as though I owe everyone an extremely dirty story or two just for getting your hopes up. Note to self: when come back, bring story involving Swedish meatballs, young Nordic lingerie model, and a coca cola enema.

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-Mustapha Mond, "Brave New World"

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Franny
Jingle Bell Hock


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I am willing to bet this has more to do with the ratio of torso length to leg length than the presence of breasts. That would explain why some men can do it and some women cannot.

I would also hazard a guess that sucess depends on having a shorter torso.

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I've been waiting here for like 20 minutes.

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LeaflessMapleTree
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quote:
Put a coin on the floor. Now kneel so that you are bent over the coin with your hands on the coin. Your hands should be directly below your forehead. Remove your hands and place them behind your back. Touch your forehead to the coin. Women can do it, men topple over.
They have something very similar (a button instead of a coin) at the Ontario Science Centre. And interestingly enough I used to be unable to do it before puberty hit me, but even since I've had no trouble with it. So go me. I have to admit that it's fun to have girls drag me to the exhibit, only to be deflated when I can do it.

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ToadMagnet
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When we did this experiment in a 7th grade science class, those attempting to lift the chair had to do so whilst keeping his/her head against the wall, and then stand up. Each time, the girl was able to lift and stand, the boy struggled manfully and failed miserably. We were told it had to do with a differing center of gravity between males and females, but not why this mattered in the great scheme of things.

And Mike Frantz never again looked quite so good in my eyes. [Razz]

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