Here's a little trick you can use to amaze your family and friends. Before we start, you need to know three things:

1. This is not a prank on you.
2. I don't know why it works.
3. It has worked every time I have tried.

The setup happens when someone in your life asks you to open a stubborn jar. Ideally, that person has already tried several furious approaches to the jar and failed. He or she tries to hand you the jar for assistance. Here's what you do.

Wave off the jar that has been offered and make sure you don't ever touch it.

Now say the following:

"You can open that jar easily with a trick I learned. Want to try?"

Most people will say yes.

"Okay, put your hands on the jar as if you are about to twist open the top and close your eyes. For ten seconds imagine all of the power and energy of your body flowing down to your hand that is about to open the jar. When you can imagine all of your strength and energy in your jar-opening hand, give the lid a sudden, confident twist and it will come off as if it had never been hard in the first place."

Wait for the subject to concentrate for 10 seconds, then say, "Now give it a quick twist and open it."

The lid will come off as if it had never been seriously stuck in the first place. Your subject's eyes will be like saucers. It's a fun moment because it will feel as if something magic just happened.

I've been doing this trick for years. As I mentioned, I have no idea why it works, unless one can actually move energy around to different body parts. But I have never seen any scientific support for that hypothesis.

You'll want to try this trick on your own jars a few times before you talk someone else into trying it. Let me know how this trick works for you.

You might wonder how I discovered this phenomenon.

Well, I have the optimist's curse. I have to confess that over the course of my entire life - or at least since reading my first Spiderman comic - I have periodically tested to see if I have an latent superpowers. For example, I like to see if I can levitate objects at a distance using nothing but my mind. That hasn't worked yet. And I have tried to predict or influence the next play in sporting events but that hasn't yielded any results. And I have tried to stand on a scale and will my weight to instantly decrease just to see if I have the start of flying powers. So far, no luck.

One day in my optimistic past I tried moving my entire body energy into my jar-opening hand to see if that was a thing. The jar lid popped off as if it had barely been attached. The first few times I tried this method on various jars it seemed as if perhaps the jar had not been so hard to open in the first place. But after I extended the trick to include other people who had already tried and failed to open stubborn jars, I started to wonder why it works.

I still have no idea. Do you?

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of a book that is changing a lot of lives, or so I am told.


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Jun 9, 2014
If that works (I didn't try, but it sound reasonable), the explanation might be this: holding the jar lid for 10 seconds increases its temperature and since the lids are made out of metal that dilate quickly it will loosen up. You could alternatively keep the lid under a jet of hot water, that should work quicker than holding it in your hand, with the disadvantage that when you wet the lid you might lose grip, which brings me to the second point, holding it for 10 seconds might also make the grip better -- not sure what's the mechanism, sometimes when you hold objects tightly for a while they kind of stick (like people who stick metal objects like spoons on their nose, apparently that's a thing: https://www.google.com/search?q=sticking spoons on nose ), maybe the hand molds better on the object, maybe the sweat&grease on your hand interacts in a different way with the object, or maybe just bringing the object closer to your hand temperature increases the grip for some reason. There might be a mental component too, focusing, using all energy at once helps people break bricks, why would not help people open lids? Not sure which of these elements is more important, but in any case, explained like that doesn't sound like magic anymore.
Jun 9, 2014
OK, uhmdown's explanation is probably better. I'll add that warming the lid will cause it to expand which would loosen it significantly.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 9, 2014
Positive thinking can be powerful. And when desperate, we can do remarkable physical feats; perhaps your concentration on it convinces your body/mind that it's critical. You might even be releasing adrenaline or other chemicals while psyching yourself up.
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 9, 2014
I think its because you are warming up the air in the jar in the 10 seconds you are holding it.
Jars are usually difficult to open not because they're screwed shut very tightly, but because of lower pressure inside the jar (which 'sucks' the lid tight).
Since cold air is denser than warm air, you're equalling out the pressure by warming up the jar.

You can test this hypothesis by placing the jar under warm water for a couple of seconds.
Also note the popping sound when the jar is opened without warming it up first. Thats the 'suction' pressure being released.

Warming up a container also helps when the content is something sticky, like honey or syrup. Warming it up first will loosen/melt the stuff that is gumming up the space between the jar and lid.

[It works even if you don't put your hand on the jar when you concentrate for 10 seconds. -- Scott]
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