How to stand an egg on end

By Phil Plait | March 19, 2008 12:33 pm

So March 20 at 05:48 UT (11:48 p.m. tonight my local time) the center of the Sun will appear to be directly over the celestial equator, and it will be the moment of the Vernal Equinox.

Got your eggs handy?

Every year I get people asking me about my egg-standing technique, which I have honed over years of practice. I decided to make a video tutorial so that you, my BABloggee, can reproduce (haha! get it? It’s an egg!) this experience for yourself.

So get cracking.


I kill me.

Update: Right after I posted this, Universe Today put up a post on it as well!


Comments (54)

  1. Will. M

    Hi, Phil:
    Think the balance has anything to do with the yolk inside? Perhaps all the maneuvering settles the yolk closer to the bottom of the egg, lowering the center of gravity and making the egg heavier on the downside (I’m assuming you put the wider end down).
    Will. M

  2. Sean Schellhammer

    HA! Phil add comedian to your resume!

  3. BTW I have another video on this topic; it’s from a local TV news show I did many years ago in California.

  4. You crack me up Phil. Egg-traordinary.

  5. jabe

    Gotta try that tonight

    but what does your shirt say?? :)


  6. That is SO cool!!! Thanks for posting that Phil I’m gonna try that tonight. You seem like such a cool guy. Do you believe in that 2012 stuff by the way? Thanks for posting stuff like this Phil it’s really neat! :-)

  7. I look forward to a whole albumen of your comedy; yolks like these are bound to get you laid. Seriously, this is a shell of a good video; I just hope no one poaches it and takes credit.

    …oh, God. I’m sorry.

  8. MandyDax

    @jabe: That shirt was the first thing I noticed! XD It’s his Penny Arcade “Wil [Wheaton] says: ‘Don’t be a dick.'” T-shirt. (I hope it okay for me to use that phrase here, BA.)

  9. Mjbutah

    Hey, there are a lot of eggs missing from that carton! Were they sacrificied to the BA gods in the name of science? Or just breakfast?

  10. Haha, loved seeing the shirt. Now Wil Wheaton needs some kind of Phil Plait-themed shirt to wear, and the circle of mancrush will be complete.

    Ever thought about making some kind of yearly egg-standing event slightly outside of the Vernal Equinox to help promote critical thinking of bad science? If you make that happen, sign me up!

  11. Jim Seymour

    Oh yeah, sure! I’ll bet you filmed that last year on the vernal equinox and you’ve been saving it until now.

    Oh wait. That T-shirt didn’t exist last year…

  12. AJ Hawks

    Wow you actually did balance it…

    I was sure you were just spinning them in the pictures to get them to stand.

    That’s much easier, but is indeed cheating. Just set an egg down as you normally would, and then spin it nice and fast. It will stand itself up on the thick end on its own.

  13. Stephen

    Inspired by the BA, I addressed this matter while making breakfast one morning, and included the results on my flickr page.

  14. Stephen

    I’ll be impressed when you balance it on the other end. ūüėČ

  15. Stephen

    ^ different Stephens btw ūüėõ

  16. That’s all fine and dandy… but how do you balance Phil Plait on his egghead?

  17. Yoshi_3up

    Eggcelent, Phil. You always make me chuckle with videos like these.

  18. Thomas Siefert

    Oh it’s that time of the year again…
    Well it’s like that “Pull my finger” trick, it never gets old.

  19. Q: Is it possible to stand an egg on its end during the equinox?
    A: Yes.*

    * – It’s possible to do so on the equinox, because it’s possible to do so any time.

  20. AJ Hawks says: “I was sure you were just spinning them in the pictures to get them to stand. That‚Äôs much easier, but is indeed cheating. Just set an egg down as you normally would, and then spin it nice and fast. It will stand itself up on the thick end on its own.”

    Apparently you’ve never actually tried this. Go ahead, I’ll wait until you get back.

    [dum de dummdadumm…]

    OK, didn’t work, did it? The liquid inside the egg doesn’t spin up with the shell and damps out the spin immediately. That is, of course, if the egg isn’t hard boiled.

    It’s an old egglofter judge trick to make sure the egg is raw before and after you fly it.

    – Jack

  21. BaldApe

    Ge, thanks Phil, you’ve just given me my lesson plan for Earth Science tomorrow. It’s the last day before Spring Break where I teach, and I just gave a test today (to avoid doing anything heavy on the last day before break.)

    So I’ll show your video, give the kids eggs to balance, and make them come up with a scientific experiment to see if the equinox really has anything to do with it.

    And pray I don’t have too much mess to clean up ūüėČ

  22. Michelle

    I have a picture where I made an egg stand up in January 2006…

    …I got it after only a couple tries. I never could reproduce the deed. ._.

  23. Egg-cellent vid.

    I did not just say that. >_>

  24. Chaaya

    Lol nice video Comedian Bad Astronomer *refrains from egg related words*

  25. Michael Lonergan
  26. Mel

    With a little help from Phil’s magical vibes …

  27. Thanks so much for reminding me of the egg thing, Phil. I’d totally forgotten that my dad used to tell us kids about the egg-balancing-on-the-vernal-equinox thing, and we totally believed him. Since becoming an adult, and actually thinking about what the vernal equinox is, and what’s going on, i’ve known this was bogus. But, I thank you for reminding me of some great childhood memories.

    In dedication, I balanced a couple eggs tonight as well. Funnily enough, I used the same method as you did in your video above. Any other way never even crossed my mind. The fact that someone would try to balance an egg with one finger on top just seems retarded.

  28. Michael Lonergan

    Mel, you did it much better than Phil. Your hotness rating is much higher. Maybe it’s Phil’s bald head… :)

  29. Phil, I’m confused. My calendar says that the Vernal Equinox is 12:48am on March 20th. I remember that the first days of spring, summer, fall, and winter usually fall on the 20th-22nd of the months they are on. I have never seen a first day of falling on day before the 20th or after the 22nd.

    Is my calendar incorrect here? Is there a site that shows the absolute correct times and dates for these events? I’m just checking here.


  30. Sorry, I was distracted by my wife when I heard you state the date and didn’t notice that you had the actual time and date written in the post. ( I was watching the YouTube video. I see that you have the exact time and date that I do. For some reason I thought I heard you say the 18th.

    Ah well, nothing like making myself look bad. (At least I didn’t post a rant on my website about it. :) )

    Thanks for all the great info you publish here. It’s really interesting stuff!

  31. davidlpf

    Anybody got any crazy glue.

  32. I find the concretions make it a little MORE difficult to get the eggs to stand up….for me, they’ve oftentimes been too varied in their size and positioning that it makes it way more tricky. I perfer the smooth eggs for balancing, myself.

  33. Ken:
    >>Q: Is it possible to stand an egg on its end during the equinox?
    >>A: Yes.*

    You’d be amazed how many times I’ve been asked by Americans:

    “Do you have July 4th in Canada?”

    It’s the same kind of question, and elicits the same [long sigh] response.

  34. My pics from the fall…

  35. autumn

    Is it possible to stand an egg on the small end? Even marginally theoretically possible?

  36. themadlolscientist
  37. First time I hear that myth….

    Too bad that there are no eggs at the office. I have to wait till I’m home.

  38. autumn:

    Yes, it’s just a bit harder to do because of the weight distribution.

  39. Sharon

    Good Morning I have always tried to balance the egg on Equinox without success. This morning at 5:55 am CT I took an egg and after only a few tries I removed my hand and the egg stood on its own!It was a smooth formica surface. It stood there for a good 20 minutes. After I knocked it over I checked it, no egg white leak or countertop imperfections. I felt like I just discovered gravity! I happened apon this site later and watched the video, well I took less time to balance mine (! smile) and used just one hand but I just had to comment! Very exciting after all these years. Thanks for the video but I’m sure Equinox had something to do with it and maybe Leap Year, ok maybe not!!!

    Have a wonderful spring!

  40. Michelle

    Saw a guy on youtube… He claims that there’s a 5 days window around the equinox. On any other day , it “doesn’t feel the same” and he claims you can only balance it on non-equinox days because of the bumps.

    …some folks just don’t wanna be convinced…

  41. John

    But, the question is… is it easier to do this on or near the equinox?

  42. Michael Lonergan

    I really, really gave it the Old College try, but something went horribly wrong…

  43. But, the question is… is it easier to do this on or near the equinox?

    And the answer is… no.

  44. BaldApe

    “Is it possible to stand an egg on the small end? Even marginally theoretically possible?”

    One of my students was so good at it, he was able to balance several eggs on their small ends. One was left on the table for the entire day. I took it down only because I didn’t want to come back into my classroom after spring break with a rotten egg smell permeating the room.

  45. Tom

    Does this work for all eggs, or only chicken eggs?

  46. beatriz

    it should work for all eggs. all eggs have similar content inside.


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