Do Mathematicians Eat the World's Tastiest Breakfasts?

By Rachel Cernansky | February 26, 2009 2:09 pm

pancake.jpgUPDATED (see below).

Thank goodness we have mathematics to solve the world’s most pressing dilemmas, such as “What’s the speed of light?” and “How do I make the world’s tastiest pancakes?” Dr. Ruth Fairclough, a mathematics professor at Wolverhampton University, set out to solve the latter problem, and has now unveiled her formula for the perfect pancake—coincidentally, just in time for International Pancake Day.

So what’s the secret to the choicest possible breakfast? With L representing the number of lumps in the batter, C the consistency, T the temperature, and a host of other variables, she calculated that perfect pancakes need only follow this simple equation:

100 – [10L – 7F + C(k – C) + T(m – T)]/(S – E).

The closer to 100 the result is, the better the pancake. The temperature of the pan (m), the consistency (C), and how long the batter sits (S) before cooking—to allow for absorption of the milk by the flour—are among the most crucial factors in making successful pancakes. The size of the pan is also important—too big and the pancakes will be hard to flip, of course.

Dr. Fairclough said she began the pancake challenge because of her two daughters’ love for the tasty breakfast treat. Lucky—and well-fed—kids!

UPDATE: A few mathematicians around the blogosphere have taken issue with the formula, calling it “unusable” and “ridiculous.” So is it bogus? Here’s a breakdown from SciencePunk:

[N]otice that although the formula uses “ideal temperature” and “ideal consistency,” there’s no clue as to what those values might be. This is kind of like saying:

Perfect pancake = ideal ingredients * ideal cooking * ideal toppings

That is to say, a total truism.

Related Content:
Disco: Is There Such a Thing as Dyslexia for Math?
Bad Astronomy: I’ll have the Silver Dollar pancakes and a probe to go, please
Bad Astronomy: Holy crepe!

Image: Flickr / mind on fire

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food
MORE ABOUT: algebra, breakfast, food

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar