I read a post from The Math Less Traveled entitled, *The Mathematics of Human Knots*. In this post, the author discusses the game “human knot”, in which every player stands in a circle and grabs the hands of someone else in the circle so that everyone is seemingly tangled up. The goal of the game is then to untangle the knot without any pair of hands letting go of each other. Many people believe that untangling is always possible, however after Dr. Heath’s lecture on knots (and reading this article), I know that this is “knot” true (I crack myself up).

The reason that accomplishing the goal of “human knot” is not always possible is because certain knots exist which cannot be untangled. The blog post provides the example of the figure eight knot:

Just from looking at this knot one can see that the knot couldn’t be untangled without going through itself.

This spring Professor Heath is teaching a course on knot theory. I look forward to taking it.

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I’m excited for this class too! I’m confused though about how you said that that knot couldn’t be untangled without going through itself. In one of those hand games, couldn’t people, in theory, go weave their whole bodies through the holes made by people’s arms? Maybe I’m understanding wrong.

If you look at the image above, the knot cannot be untangled without “breaking the knot”. Remember the knots Prof. Heath brought to his lecture? Not all of them could be untangled. Knots like this can occur in the human knot game. Without someone letting go of someone else and then rejoining hands (“breaking the knot”), they cannot untangle. At least that’s how I understand it.