MIT investigates how the Oreo crumbles

Feedback is our weekly column of weird tales, implausible promoting claims, complicated directions and extra

27 April 2022

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Josie Ford

That’s the best way …

Few subjects excite Feedback greater than those who sit on the confluence of science and biscuits. So we salute researchers on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who’ve synergistically built-in analysis and tea breaks by clamping creme-filled sandwich cookies to a tool designed to research why, while you twist the 2 halves aside, the filling often finally ends up hooked up nearly totally on one facet moderately than splitting evenly.

“Scientifically, sandwich cookies present a paradigmatic model of parallel plate rheometry in which a fluid sample, the cream, is held between two parallel plates, the wafers,” we learn of their paper “On Oreology, the fracture and flow of ‘milk’s favorite cookie®‘”, an announcement from which we don’t presume to demur.

Their reply to the central query can finest be summarised within the immortal phrases of hip hop professionals Run-DMC: “It’s like that, and that’s the way it is.” They do discover, nevertheless, that the filling of biscuits saved in situations of upper temperature and humidity is extra more likely to cut up evenly between the 2 sides. This might clarify the best way the cookie crumbles in our stationery cabinet lair, and why there are crumbs in all places.

For these wishing to do that at house, and in addition examine the results of dunking in liquid on biscuit integrity, the paper comes with 3D printer design recordsdata and ideas on your personal “Oreometer” checks. That is our subsequent few tea breaks sorted.

… the cookie crumbles

Correction: few subjects excite Feedback greater than these on the confluence of science, biscuits and tax regulation, as UK judges rule that flapjacks are, amongst different issues, “too chewy” to rely as truffles.

The UK judiciary has lengthy been on the chopping fringe of goal definitions of cake, owing to UK tax regulation treating biscuits as sweets, and due to this fact luxurious objects to be taxed at regular charges, however cake – fairly rightly – as a necessary foodstuff that’s zero-rated for tax functions. Previous rulings have involved Jaffa Cakes, oblate sweetmeats with a gooey orangey filling (truffles), and snowballs, marshmallow domes coated in chocolate and/or coconut (additionally truffles).

The newest judgment from a two-person judicial tasting panel, confusingly known as a tribunal – presumably a reduced-calorie model – is a masterclass in integrating concerns as disparate as chemistry, rheology, morphology and behavioural and cultural science. Besides being too chewy, inadequately aerated, insufficiently sq. and too protein-rich to rely as cake, the flapjack bars have been deemed by the justices to “look wholly out of place as a dessert at the end of a meal, or as the food to be consumed at an afternoon tea”. In these components, you don’t get extra damning than that.

Peep present

How many Peeps wouldn’t it take to fill the Grand Canyon? Another query for our pile of ones we had not thought to ask, partly however not completely by not realizing what Peeps are. Our cultural ignorance: they’re famed US Easter treats “made from what looks (and tastes) like artificial foam rubber”, in response to our informant Bob Willis, presumably not the late England quick bowler. The reply, in response to the article he sends, is 127 quadrillion, which additionally deserves an entry in our burgeoning pile of mystifying measurement comparisons. Peeps small, Grand Canyon massive, we predict is the final thought. Good luck to anybody intent on verifying that one.

Delicious dairy

Christina Kenny from London writes regarding an announcement in New Scientist‘s article on breastfeeding practices within the Nineteenth-century Netherlands (23 April, p 10), “The researchers wanted to find out more about the diets of the women and children in this village, which mainly consisted of dairy farmers at this time”. “Eye-opening feature on Dutch cannibalism,” she observes. Our personal eyes briefly pop, after which slender once more. You know completely nicely what we meant.

Potter off

Also upset is Tillmann Benfey from Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada, who castigates a failure in an article on divergent animal evolution in city and rural settings (12 March, p 42) to quote a seminal account from over a century in the past. Apologies. The full reference is Potter, B. The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918).

An accelerator writes

Feedback is startled to be despatched an e mail by the Large Hadron Collider. Either the particle smasher has acquired startling new powers in its current improve, or a beech marten has chewed by a key cable making issues go haywire once more, as in 2016.

We are much more confused to search out that the Large Hadron Collider is writing to ask “Did you write The Large Hadron Collider?”. No, on so many ranges. It seems to come back from a tutorial social networking website of the kind a few of you may have beforehand noticed claiming Charles Darwin continues to be alive and dealing at a college in South America, and that the equally long-late biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck has simply talked about you in a paper (5 December 2020). We briefly contemplate the likelihood that every one these messages are coming from one other dimension, earlier than deciding the reply continues to be “no”.

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