Space invaders

Written by: Eureka! | Published:
You missed the third choice in the problem, which is to get out of bed, walk round, get in the ...

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Sharing a bed with one’s partner is generally held to be a desirable state of affairs, but as anyone who has done so for many years can testify, it is not without its pitfalls.

Putting aside issues such as snoring and duvet-hogging, there is another hazard facing those sharing beds: encroachment.

It’s a common enough sensation: waking up at some point in the night to discover that one is nearer the edge of the bed than is either comfortable or safe and that one’s partner – rather than remain on their side of the bed, has effectively annexed yours.

This leaves the encroachee with two choices: make the best of it and teeter precariously on the edge of the mattress, being constantly aware of the looming void into which any sudden movement could plunge one; or wake one’s partner (either verbally or with a less-than-subtle shove) and attempt to restore equilibrium. Either solution is likely to occasion domestic disharmony.

The challenge

What is required, then, is some sort of mechanism to prevent this unhappy state of affairs. Perhaps some sort of barrier that emerges in the middle of the bed – or an alarm that is triggered the moment one bedmate crosses the invisible line in the middle of the bed?

Whatever you come up with must be effective, ideally won’t interfere with a good night’s sleep and above all, safe.

The idea we have in mind will be revealed in the July issue of Eureka! Until then see what you can come up with. Submit your ideas by leaving a comment on the Coffee Time Challenge section of the Eureka! website or by emailing the editor:

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Coffee Time Challenge is just a bit of fun, but it is based on a real engineering solution. If you send in your ideas by using the comment button below, we can add your solution as an alternative – perhaps something funny, practical, cheap or, of course, innovative.

You missed the third choice in the problem, which is to get out of bed, walk round, get in the other side and wait for your partner to fall out of your side, at which point you get the bed to yourself and incontrovertible evidence that they’re to blame. Any solution should also consider that there will be times when you both want to be on the same side of the bed without any external interruptions.
Nick Hunn

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