Saturday, November 28, 2015

German word of the week: Kabelsalat

See entertaining Kabelsalat article below by Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany, published at

I am pleased to report that in my office the only cable that is visible is shown in the photo below. 

Don't ask what goes on behind the scenes though! Alright, if you must know, see photos below.
Still – on balance I'm quite pleased with this (at least superficially) tidy solution.

Kabelsalat article  by Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany, published at
Does your office look like this?
It might be time to organize that Kabelsalat!

(© picture alliance/chromorange)
If there's one thing Germans really despise, it's having an unappealing Kabelsalat growing in the corner of their homes, consuming all that lands in their midst. Literally translated, this German word means “cable salad," but it has nothing to do with the leafy greens you may have just had for lunch! Instead, this word refers to a tangled mess of electrical cords that can quickly become overwhelming.

A stereotype about Germans is that they are very organized, and a Kabelsalat creates an unpleasant disarray in the household or workplace, collecting dust beneath its tangles. Without proper organization, piles of tangled cables can become a tripping hazard, an annoyance, or – in extreme cases – a fire hazard.

In 2006, a team of researchers was so fascinated by the formation of Kabelsalate that they launched a study examining how the lengths of electrical cables affect the gradual development and size of their knots and tangles.
The early stages of a Kabelsalat (© dpa)
German physicist Jens Eggers and his colleagues at the University of Bristol in England were baffled at how quickly electrical cords formed knots when they were simply shaken up in a box. They hypothesized that the greater the length of the cable, the more likely it was to become tangled. But this prediction was incorrect: in an experiment they conducted, the researchers discovered that any ball chain cable that had a minimum length of 16 cm (6.3 inches) had a 26 percent probability of forming a knot when placed on a vibrating concave plate for half a minute.

After the experiment, Eggers told Physics World that cable length is usually irrelevant when it comes down to the probability of becoming tangled, since knots begin forming at the end of cables and work their way inwards. Length does, however, affect the time it takes to shake out a knot.

Kabelbinder are used to build a Kabelbaum
(© dpa)
To avoid this problem altogether, Germans use cable-organizing devices called Kabelbinder (“cable ties”) and Kabelbäume (“cable trees”). Cable ties, also known as zip ties, can be used to fasten together cords or wires to prevent them from tangling. Kabelbäume, which are sometimes called cable harnesses, cable trees or wire harnesses in English, are organized structures of cables that are used especially in complex wiring systems such as airplanes or telephone systems.

So make sure to keep your cables organized; a Kabelsalat is one salad you should probably stay away from!