In the episode from season 5, The One with the Cop, Ross has just purchased a new sofa. Rather than pay an extortionate delivery fee, he opts to move the couch himself, with the help of Rachel and Chandler.
But the trio struggle to manoeuver the sofa up the stairs, despite Ross having made a sketch and shouting “pivot” repeatedly.
Eventually, we see that the couch got cut in half, but a mathematician has worked out that it would have been possible to get it up the stairs.
By analysing the scene in detail and using estimated dimensions of both the sofa and the staircase, data science consultant Caroline Zunckel PhD has revealed an equation and methodology that they believe would have worked.
Working with flatshare website SpareRoom, they have have produced an infographic that includes both the equation and a visual demonstration of the angles needed to move the furniture.
It reveals that, by tilting and pivoting, the couch would have made it up the stairs (they ran more than 10,000 simulations based on different measurements to test this).
By measuring the sofa and the stairs, Ross would have been able to use this equation to figure out the minimum angle of tilt he’d need to achieve to get it around the 90-degree corner: Angle of vertical tilt (T) =44.15064 -11.94274xWS (Width of the Stairwell) + 8.69119xWC (Width of the Couch) + 3.65961xLC (Length of the Couch).
Zunckel said: “By applying Pythagoras’ theorem to the estimated measurements of Ross’s sofa in a vertical position and dimensions of the stairwell, I was able to establish that it would have been possible for Ross to get the sofa up the stairwell and into the flat without resorting to the extreme measure of chopping it in half.
“It’s quite simple really,”
SpareRoom’s Matt Hutchinson added: “Although the research contains some headache-inducing maths, the solution for Ross is pretty simple: ‘pivot’ and ‘tilt’.”