How to Conquer the Viral Milk Crate Challenge, According to Science

There’s always a new viral sensation online, and this week, it’s something called the “milk crate challenge.” What is it, and why are people falling from towering stacks of milk crates for attention? The explanation requires a little bit of speculative physics and psychology.

To complete the milk crate challenge, you need 49 milk crates—not so many for those who live near a grocery or corner store where they tend to accumulate. You stack the milk crates into a pyramid-shaped set of “stairs” that reach up to seven milk crates high at the tallest point, and then attempt to walk up and down the entire structure.

It seems easy at first glance, but as you climb, the highest levels of the pyramid quickly start to shift around, at which point the climber may panic a bit and step too fast or too off-center. Thankfully, most videos show this happening over grass, and not concrete; most of the videos end in hilarious fails that could otherwise be dangerous.

So let’s zoom in on what’s happening here in more detail. First of all, what’s the deal with the ubiquitous containers we call milk crates? Well, that’s still as simple as what it says on the tin—these are ideal containers to ship gallons (or other bottles) of milk to and from stores.

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