MYTH BUSTER: Can you pull apart two phone books?

By: Aaron Luna Email
By: Aaron Luna Email

The myth goes if you put two of these common household items together there is almost no physical way to pull them apart.

In fact, it would take more than a ton of force to separate the two.

We're talking about two phone books.

11 News Reporter Aaron Luna puts this myth to the test.

The short of it is this: take two phone books and interlace them page by page.

"Until you get something like this. Obviously I put the ropes on it but the gist of it is that once the pages are folded together like that it will be impossible to pull these two books apart without ruining them."

The first two contestants hail from the KKCO 11 News station front office.

No luck there. Maybe we need some heftier challengers.

"I don't think they can do it."

"Charlie and Master P? Probably not."

No love from the peanut gallery.

"I think it requires strength, which honestly they might not have."

Try and try as they may, the phone book still won't come apart.

Maybe this challenge needs a little age and wisdom.

Phone book three, peanut gallery zero.

"I'm a delicate flower, I'm not supposed to be doing that kind of stuff."

Ok, time to put down the guns and call for some cannons.

Height, weight, and bench max please.

"Sean Grant 6', 185 and I put up 325."

"Bill Shoemate 6' 195 probably around 305."

"Josh McGuire weight 195 and I can bench 325."

Then there is Ian.

"6'5" 305, 505."

This phone book is definitely coming apart.

Ok guys lets make this a group effort.

"Its indestructible, Dex can you do that?"

"Well, it looks like its going to take more than just a couple of guys to pull these phone books apart but to find out how many we need, we're here at Mesa State College. Hopefully they will have an answer for us."

"The frictional force of a phone book is pretty interesting actually because..."

Chad Middleton is an assistant professor of physics.

If anyone knows how much manpower we need its him.

"If you want to calculate the total frictional force on this phone book it's actually a pretty easy calculation... you can work out all the details in about five or ten minutes."

"right right, simple simple real easy."

"The co–efficient of static friction of paper on paper gives it a number of about .6."

"I have no idea what he is talking about."

“And this is the force necessary to essentially separate these two phone books."

4,000 pounds, where can I get power like that?

That will work.

A quick thanks to the folks at Sunstate Equipment Rental.

It looks like this one appears to be true.

"Well, there you have it. The phone books came apart but not by the pages, it ripped the bindings completely off the book. For KKCO 11 News, I'm Aaron Luna..

If you have a theory you'd like Aaron to put to the test, send him an e-mail at

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  • by raven Location: Grand junction on May 15, 2009 at 07:26 PM
    I could have sworn mythbusters on discovery channal did this one.
  • by mARK Location: Colorado on May 15, 2009 at 03:34 PM
    Why is this news?
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