(Roughly) Daily

The most unkindest cut…

Your correspondent has long been haunted by a question of practical fairness:  Suppose I order a pizza to share with a friend, and then a distracted waiter cuts the pie off-center, but with all the edge-to-edge cuts crossing at a single point, and with the same angle between adjacent cuts. The off-center cuts mean the slices will not all be the same size, so if my friend and I take turns to take adjacent slices, will we get equal shares by the time we’ve finished the pizza– and if not, who will get more?

Happily, this question also bothered mathematicians Rick Mabry and Paul Deiermann, who set out to answer it.  And, as the New Scientist reports, answer it they did.   Readers can henceforth consult this handy diagram…

The full story is here.

(And for info on how to cut a bagel so that it forms [in effect] a Möbius strip, see “Mathematically Correct Breakfast.”)

As we reach for the crushed red pepper, we might recall that today’s a relative-ly good day for a pizza party, as it was on this date in 1900 that German physicist Max Planck presented and published his study of the effect of radiation on a “black-body” substance (introducing what we’ve come to know as the Planck Postulate), and the quantum theory of modern physics– and for that matter, Twentieth Century modernity– were born.

Max Planck

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