Throughout his introductory remarks, Dr. Reis had a vexing encounter with an intertwined microphone cord. “This is a very good instance of why we actually care about this subject,” he stated.

Dr. Reis grapples with the likes of lengthy-overhand shoelace knotting, climbing knots, basket weaving, surgical sutures, and how to pass on the art of surgical-knot craftsmanship to robots. Throughout the session, his lab mates described how they had applied a CT scan to probe the internal structure of knot filaments and the friction that arises exactly where filaments touch. Following the meeting, Dr. Matsumoto sent him house with some of her swatches.

Derek Moulton, of the University of Oxford, talked about variants of sailor’s knots, DNA and protein knots, and worms that tie themselves into knots in order to reduce dehydration. He went on talk about “whether a knotted filament with zero points of self-get in touch with may perhaps be realized physically.” That is, can a knot exist wherein none of its crossings touch? (It can attempt it at house with a strip of paper, or a cord.)

And Thomas Plumb-Reyes, an applied physicist at Harvard, presented his investigation on “Detangling Hair” to a standing-space-only audience.

“What is going on in tangled hair?” he asked. “What is the optimal combing tactic?”

Shashank Markande, a Ph.D. student operating with Dr. Matsumoto, reported on their stitch classification operate so far. With each other, they had derived a conjecture: All knittable stitches ought to be ribbon knots. (A ribbon knot is a extremely technical tangle.) And they pondered the corollary: Are all ribbon knots knittable?

Back in February, Mr. Markande (who began knitting only not too long ago for the sake of science) believed he’d located an instance of an unknittable ribbon knot, making use of a knots-and-hyperlinks computer software system referred to as SnapPy. He sent Dr. Matsumoto a text message with a sketch: “Tell me if this can be knitted?”

Dr. Matsumoto was just heading out for a run, and by the time she returned, obtaining manipulated the yarn each and every which way in her head, she had worked out an answer. “I feel that can be knitted,” she texted back. When Mr. Markande pressed her on how, she added: “It’s knittable by our guidelines, but it is not trivial to do with needles.”