Why the #Vanschallenge is so strange

vans.jpgFor the past few weeks, heaps of individuals on Snapchat and Instagram have been flooding the platforms with videos of them precipitating their sneakers to see if they do indeed always land right-side up. There are thousands of videos about the so-called #Vanschallenge that both debunk and corroborate the validity of the claim at hand but what’s so interesting about this new trend is the sheer volume of attention its garnering. All the concentration has been on the seemingly magical properties of the shoe itself but something nobody has brought up is why this even happens in the first place.

Vans are created using a process called vulcanization. It’s a process that involves the heating raw rubber to cure it which in turn creates crosslinks inside the rubber compound bonding it together. However, the part most should be interested in is the sole of the shoe. The sole and outsole part of the shoe is made out of the heaviest material and goes through the most change during the vulcanization process.

The rubber shoe outsole parts are assembled onto the lasted upper before the rubber is completely cured. With the sole attached, the entire shoe must be heated in a vulcanizing oven. The shoe must be heated to around 110˚C  for 80 minutes. Due to the fact that the sole contains the most mass, this means two things; Gravity will pull down on it with greater force and it takes a greater force to accelerate it.

Once you throw or drop a Vans shoe we now have to deal with air resistance. The force of air resistance acts on all parts of the object equally because gravity accelerates all portions an object equally when acting alone. In the case of these challenges, it usually is. Less massive parts of the object take less force to accelerate. So we have an evenly distributed force of air resistance acting on an object with uneven mass distribution. The less massive end will be slowed more than the more massive end. So the rubber part of the shoe AKA the sole lands first, usually.

However, what many have failed to realize is that this process is true for most other shoes. The soles of shoes are made to withstand the force of movement and the harsh environments humans are exposed to on a regular basis. The soles of men’s and women’s dress shoes are typically made from high-quality leather, rubber or a combination of the two. Casual shoes and work shoes often feature soles made out of natural rubber or polyurethane. It’s only natural that every shoe regardless of the brand would have the quality of always landing right side up. Such has been true for the people who have tested other brands of shoes like Converse and Nike and yielded the same results.

It makes sense that such an accessible shoe brand like Vans would be the poster child for the internets newest craze. Alternatively, the tweet that effectively started the viral Internet challenge does single out Vans shoes specifically.

The one nice thing about this challenge is that since its inception no one has taken it too far, yet. If this is gonna be the the things humanity loses their heads over, then so be it. It’s better than actually losing our heads.


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Why the world record egg passing Kylie Jenner matters.

I’ve seen many posts on the internet attempt to use social media to expose an idea about virality and the rapid spread of information in the past. By and large, most aren’t especially successful. They all end up achieving the bare minimum of what they initially were supposed to do. However, a new viral media craze has ingratiated itself into the world Instagram. The most successful, polarizing, and fascinating new trailblazer manifests itself in the form of an egg.

The premise of the “world_record_egg” account was simple. It contained a singular static photo of an egg and its caption called upon the powers of the internet to help it become the most liked picture on Instagram. At the time the most liked photo had amassed eighteen million likes. It was no easy feat but a challenge the egg was willing to take. Sure enough in just a few weeks, it passed its milestone, but immediately after something else happened. It kept going. Eighteen million turned into nineteen million, then twenty, and soon it was thirty million. As of today, the post has garnered over fifty million likes and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. In less than a month this egg attracted the attention of the entire world wide web.

The natural question many have is why. Why did it gain such a vast amount likes in such a short time span? Why should I care about it? Why did I like it? I’m going to attempt to answer these questions. In this article and hopefully by the end of it we will understand why this all happened in the first place and why this may be the best thing to ever happen to Instagram.

The appeal of the so-called “world record egg” can be explained by two main reasons. For starters it’s hilarious, albeit a bit silly, but hilarious nonetheless. The prospect of a generic photo of an egg being not only a world record holder but the number 1 most liked photo on the largest photo-sharing website on the internet is incredibly humorous. It’s scientifically known that humans are drawn to silly things. A good sense of humor is almost universally seen as a character strength. The egg clearly exemplifies that truth. As soon as the photo began circulating many spread it around as a joke. Nobody could have predicted the sheer stopping power it would eventually prove to have. However, it wouldn’t have nearly been as successful if the photo was of a human. Which is the second reason why the egg became so popular.

The project was selfless. The egg represented nobody. It wasn’t endorsed by any charity (at the time), it wasn’t connected to any celebrity or organization, it was just a still photo of an egg, nothing more and nothing less. An egg is common, it’s a widely known object that is so nonproprietary it could seemingly blend into any other random joke account. That’s the most alluring nature of its character. Its neutrality inadvertently became its most compelling virtue. The human behind the account has purposely chosen to remain anonymous. Even since its gained notoriety, only very slim details have been revealed about the enigmatic poster. However, I believe the creator’s choice to perpetuate their own anonymity is deliberate. If we could associate a face with the egg it would lose all sense of impartiality. It wouldn’t be a victory for the internet. It would a victory for them.

That’s what the egg truly is. A victory. Regardless of the underlying factors that led to the overwhelming success of the egg, it’s clear this took the combined effort of many. While fifty million doesn’t seem like a whole lot when you consider the fact that there isn’t even a single U.S. state that has a population of fifty million, you get a good perspective on the sheer magnitude of this situation. The egg represents the power we have as a unified populace. It’s an innocent concept, a clear thought amongst confusion. I’ve seen people laugh at the egg, criticize the egg, underestimate the egg, but I’ve never seen anyone marvel at the egg. Right now the egg is pure. Let’s just hope it stays that way.