Spring begins today, March 20, in the Northern Hemisphere.
The rumour that it’s possible to stand an egg on its end on the first day of spring, also known as the vernal equinox, is only partly true.
It is possible to stand an egg on its head. But it has nothing to do with it being the first day of spring. It can be performed any day of the year.
This party trick most likely has to with the texture of the egg shell (a smoother shell probably won’t grip to the surface as well) and the skill of the egg handler.
There are no changes in gravity alignment between the sun and the Earth, which has sometimes been attributed the eggs balancing specifically on the spring equinox.
If you don’t believe us, here’s a little anecdote from Bad Astronomy’s Philip Plait:
I recently received an email from Lisa Vincent, who teaches at the Mancelona Middle School in Mancelona, Michigan. She and her class decided to test the egg-myth for themselves, and had her students try it on October 16, 1999.
Not only did they get eggs to balance, but they got them to balance on their short ends! This is a feat I have never been able to reproduce. For proof, they sent me images of their eggs, which I present here. Note that the eggs are indeed standing on their short ends. Incidentally, Ms. Vincent told me the eggs remained standing for over a month. Usually a random vibration would knock an egg over, but in the image it looks to me like they were standing on a standard high school chemistry class work table and sink, which are designed to be very sturdy. That was a good choice!
The four seasons — spring, summer, autumn, and winter — depend on the Earth’s tilt. Twice a year, on the spring and the fall equinox, the angle of the Earth on its axis is perpendicular to the sun.
(That also means that if this spring egg standing theory were correct you could perform the same trick on the first day of fall.)
The only thing the first day of spring means for people on Earth is that day and night are the exact same length, each 12 hours long. Equinox, by the way, means “equal night.”
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