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another sum exlusive

Issue 10 - May 2003

A flipping good solution

A flipping good solution A recent survey of shoppers found that 83% of us celebrate Shrove Tuesday with the odd bit of pancake tossing. However only 11% of those were confident they would be sitting down to eat perfect pancakes that landed safely back in the pan. But good news is at hand for those of us who all to often stare down at a collapsed mess in the pan and wonder where it all went wrong.

The supermarket chain Asda and a group of physics students from Leeds University have come up with a foolproof calculation of a pancakes trajectory during tossing. Providing ingredients and the pans circumference are correctly calculated the pancakes trajectory during the toss can be expressed as a formula involving gravity, length of pivot and pi. Leeds student Matthew Wilkinson explained: "The formula is reassuringly simple. 'W' is the angular velocity of the pancake, 'g' represents gravity and 'r' is the distance from the pivot - the elbow - to the centre of the pancake."

But while the theoretical solution is at hand, it may not solve practical pancake problems. Asda spokesperson Nick Agarwal admitted that the measurements required for the formula had to be taken immediately before or even during the toss. The calculation of gravitational forces is especially problematic as each pancake must have an individual size and weight assessment. It also appears that the students experiments were conducted using only cardboard replicas rather than the more malleable and tricky batter originals. Perhaps Asda's donation of batter for next years project work will ensure a recipe for success on a practical as well as theoretical level.

Source: The Guardian

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