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Woman finally gets her 2 ceramic bowls unstuck after epic Twitter saga

A woman's dishwashing ended with her two ceramic bowls being stuck together — a dilemma that captured Twitter's attention this week.
Two ceramic bowls stacked and stuck together on a shelf in front of a window.
The now-infamous bowls that were stuck together for days in a saga that captured the attention of Twitter.Chi Nguyễn / Twitter
/ Source: TODAY

In what can only be described as the Super Bowl of Twitter …

Artist Chi Nguyễn shared a now-infamous plea for help on June 6 after two ceramic bowls she'd stacked together while doing dishes got stuck together.

“Twitter, I need your help. I stacked a ceramic bowl into another one while doing dishes and now they are stuck,” she explained. “How do you remove the smaller bowl without breaking both of them? Why am I so invested? I’ve tried to fix this for 2 days, and I cannot give up now.”

Nguyễn, who did not immediately respond to TODAY's request for comment, explained that she’d tried a multitude of methods to dislodge the nestled bowls to no avail. Among her fruitless attempts were WD-40, warm soapy water, aggressive shaking, cards and toothpicks to break the seal, and passive-aggressive comments to both bowls.

“Have you tried politely asking the smaller bowl to leave?” one Twitter user asked Nguyen.

“Have you tried unplugging it and plugging it back in?” another Twitter user quipped.

Nguyễn's post has received upwards of thousands of comments and retweets with suggestions and over a hundred thousand likes in the past few days.

Finally, on Wednesday evening, she shared that the two bowls finally had been unstuck. The key was enlisting the help of a toddler, she joked, and giving them a "clear mandate that bowls must stay together."

In a later tweet, she explained what she think finally got the two bowls unstuck.

"I think it’s leaving it alone for a while upside down + suction cup + banged on floor!!!" she posted on Wednesday night.

As true investigative journalists, TODAY wanted to know the science behind how these two bowls had come together to form such a quandary. So — before the bowls were unstuck — we asked the experts.

James Kakalios is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota and the author of "The Physics of Superheroes" and "The Physics of Everyday Things." Chad Orzel is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College and the author of "A Brief History of Timekeeping" as well as "How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog."

As the scientifically inclined are wont to do, both came up with a few reasons why the two bowls could have fused. Both theorized that either friction or water-created surface tension could be part of the issue.

“I do think if (she) just turns them upside down somewhere and forget about it as best (she) can, that is probably the best,” Orzel explained. “If it’s just a low-pressure thing, it’s not going to be a perfect seal. So the air will slowly weaken, and it’ll eventually equalize, and then they’ll come apart. If it’s the water thing and it will eventually evaporate out.”

Orzel added at the time that there was no telling how long it could take for the water that could potentially be causing the suction to dry.

Kakalios also touched on one popular tip on Nguyen’s thread which urged her to try climbing up a mountain: air pressure being part of the resolution. 

The idea is to reduce the air pressure around both bowls. The air trapped between the two bowls will create a net pressure difference, and that might be enough to pop the smaller one out. 

Nguyễn, however, is based in New York and he wasn't sure that the Empire State Building would've been high enough.

“But I think that that would be probably the best bet," Kakalios quipped.

As for a term for the widespread phenomenon of having two bowls stuck together in a spooning position, there is none. For this, Kakalios has another theory. “We’re probably going to start calling it by her first name,” Kakalios said of Chi Nguyễn.