May 19th, 2006

ronin

The Zeppelin bend, or How to jailbreak with a rope made from bedsheets.

Someone over at the Mythbusters Fanclub forums posted about whether it'd be practical to escape from jail with a rope made from bedsheets. I figure absolutely. The interesting question to me was, how do you most efficiently tie the sheets together, while wasting the least length? (Insert "Well, that certainly sounds kinky to me!" joke here.)

My first impulse was to just say screw it, and use square knots to tie everything together. As it turns out, this is almost the worst possible way to do things! Every knot weakens the rope its tied in to some extent. Better knots only weaken the rope's strength to 70-80% of normal breaking strength. The square knot (more generally known as the reef knot), as it turns out, weakens whatever you tie it in to less than half (usually about 47%) of its normal strength!

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Even if you have no interest in knots at all, I encourage everyone to take a glance at The Zeppelin bend. It's the simplest, strongest, most elegant, most useful knot I've ever seen. It'll take you fifteen seconds to learn it, and then you'll forever know the best way to tie two ropes together.
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