moving a couch with a woman sitting on it moving a couch with a woman sitting on it No one's figured out how to fit a couch through a corner with a person on it. (Photo: Daren Woodward / Shutterstock)

'New' math discovery: How to move a couch around a corner

What surprised us most about this finding was that no one's figured it out before.

A mathematician just discovered something that every mover on the planet would love to know: the best way to move a couch around a corner is to tip it on its side.

Dan Romik, an Israeli math professor at UC Davis, used 3D printing to figure this one out. "I'm excited by how 3D technology can be used in math," said Romik. "Having something you can move around with your hands can really help your intuition." After all, it's not like you can just move an actual couch around with your hands.

In the "moving sofa problem" (yes, that's its real name), scientists try to figure out the biggest sofa that could fit through a hallway corner. This problem has stumped scientists for generations. They've probably been waiting for a discovery like this since ancient times, when Roman scientists couldn't figure out how to get couches into their palaces. "We'll have to sit on the floor," sighed the Roman scientists, we assume, before Roman movers begrudgingly helped them out.

Romik, who received his Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in Israel, sees this problem as more than theoretical. "Although the moving sofa problem may appear abstract, the solution involves new mathematical techniques that can pave the way to more complex ideas," he said. "There's still lots to discover in math."


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Science