What is the towel challenge and how do you do it?

The TikTok “towel challenge” has puzzle-lovers baffled. But at least it looks like a ton of fun. 

Now that vaccinated folks can stand closer than six feet apart, a new TikTok challenge is growing in popularity. The towel challenge requires two people to hold interlocked towels and then try to maneuver themselves free without lifting their hands. But math whizzes might see an error in this logic.

What is the “towel challenge” on TikTok? 

The “towel challenge” requires two people to each hold the ends of a towel. The two towels should interlock to form a link. Each person must then contort their bodies while crawling and looping in and out of the circles to get free. 

Then user @gabriella_86 tried to do it with a friend but they couldn’t get free.

Meanwhile, the Voros twins declared they “figured it out.” However, users noted that the brothers switch towels to do so which is against the rules. Of course, it’s an easy trick of the eye to pull of when you’ve got an identical twin.

But it was Sheena Melwani’s dad (known for roasting her) who pointed out that it is actually mathematically impossible to win the challenge. 

“It is impossible,” he joked as his daughter struggled to break free. “When you start with two circles you cannot separate them. This is what happens when you skip school people. One day, you’ll grow up, you’ll be sitting on the floor.” 

Is it possible to win the challenge? 

According to knot theory, a field of mathematics that focuses on three-dimensional closed curves it’s not possible to separate two or more interlocking rings. The only way to separate two closed rings is by breaking one. Pulling on the rings would simply distort the shape while trying to unhook them would prove fruitless. 

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