CLAIM: NASA said Feb. 10 is the only day of the year that a broom can stand on its own.
THE FACTS: NASA did not make that claim, but the U.S. space agency did take time Tuesday to address the false assertion as it spread widely on Twitter. Turns out, it’s just a balancing act and a broom can stand on its own on any day.
Social media users began circulating the claim citing NASA on Monday along with videos and photos showing a variety of brooms being balanced. Some posts tied balancing brooms to gravitational pull and others said it was the tilt of the Earth. NASA spokeswoman Karen Northon told The Associated Press in an email that the posts, which circulated widely on Twitter and Facebook, proved the importance of checking with reliable sources before spreading information online.
“This is another social media hoax that exemplifies how quickly pseudoscience and false claims can go viral,” she said. NASA knocked down the #BroomstickChallenge claim on its official Twitter account Tuesday, posting that “basic physics works every day of the year — not just Feb. 10.” The tweet featured a video of Astronaut Alvin Drew and scientist Sarah Noble making a broom stand on its own. “It’s just physics,” Drew said in the video uploaded to Twitter on Feb. 11.
NASA Earth, a separate Twitter account, also addressed the claim, stating, “there’s no special gravity that only affects brooms.” The broom challenge myth has existed online for years. WIRED debunked the claim in 2012 with a story titled “Balancing brooms: it’s not about the planets.”