Numberphile Presents The Scientific Method of Cutting Cake

Numberphile Presents The Scientific Method of Cutting Cake

According to a rediscovered Nature magazine article from 1906, you are cutting cake entirely wrong.

If you believe that science is all about theroetical warp drives and the creation of stars, let me assure you that it offers immediate, practical, and relevant applications, including the proper way to cut a cake. Numberphile, a YouTube video series sponsored by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, addressed this pressing issue by pointing out that current cake-cutting methods actually dry out later slices, which is catastrophic when you're craving late-night leftovers. Thankfully, a scientific alternative was devised 100 years ago, buried within the letters section of a 1906 issue of Nature magazine.

The problem with the usual method of cutting triangular cake slices is when you store leftovers, the exposed cake interior dries out, leaving portions that aren't as delicious to bite into. The solution, published as "Cutting a Round Cake on Scientific Principles," proposes cutting slices across the entire length of the cake and pressing the remaining portions together to preserve freshness.

"The ordinary method of cutting out a wedge is very faulty," the article reads. "The results to be aimed at are so to cut the cake that the remaining portions shall fit together."

While this cake-cutting method takes some getting used to, it could be worth pursuing. Not only will it keep leftover cake fresh, the concept of a massive "prime cut" slice is one that absolutely needs to be adopted on a wider scale.

What do you think? Will you use this cake-cutting method on your next birthday? Or do you still prefer the usual unscientific method?

Source: Galton.org

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It's MY cake and I'll cuts it how I wants. Besides, cake doesn't usually last long enough to go stale when in MY presence :]

Wait... Cake and science? Together?!

It is time once more...

Deploy The MEME!

This should be titled "How to cut a cake in the worst way possible that require you to get your hand all over the cake, and pass along any germs that you may have .. But don't worry! at least your ever decreasing cake slice is fresh!"
Silly scientists

Naturally, the cake should be pushed together using the spatula, and not hands. There are plenty of cakes that would not take well to hand-handling, such as the standard Scandinavian layered cream cake.

Do people not cover their food before they put it in the fridge?

And here we see the difference between theory and practice... I'm sure this sounded great on paper, but I'm sorry to say it's complete horseshit in its application.

Not to mention that the "wedge" method of dividing a circle into equal parts along its radius is already mathematically and geometrically optimal.

So the whole "problem" this promises to solve is that if you cut out a wedge and don't eat the rest, the exposed bit is going to dry a little?
That's it?
And in exchange for solving that "issue", you have to use rubber bands, cut out a shitton of slices and manhandle the whole cake every time you cut it?
What if the exterior is whipped cream or meringue (or something equally soft and fragile)?
What if it's a mousse cake?
What if you already have a plastic or glass bell that keeps your cakes from drying in the first place? Or some simple plastic film (e.g: Saran wrap)?

Scientific research established long ago can still be relevant today, but this is not one of those cases.

But who wants non-triangular slices of cake? Fuck that.

kajinking:
Wait... Cake and science? Together?!

It is time once more...

Deploy The MEME!

Yes! I've been preparing for this:

ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO CAKE.

Why did I watch this while on an empty stomach. That was stupid.

Makabriel:
This should be titled "How to cut a cake in the worst way possible that require you to get your hand all over the cake, and pass along any germs that you may have .. But don't worry! at least your ever decreasing cake slice is fresh!"
Silly scientists

Gloves, you should be using them when serving cake anyway.

Also, this was clearly a demonstration of a mathematical idea, not actual culinary advice.

I think the important point is that this is a method of cutting cakes if you live alone. You are preventing the cake from drying out over night after you have eaten ONE SLICE every night. I am unwilling to speculate why a mathematician might be more inclined to worry about this sort of problem.

A more interesting problem for people who do not eat their cake alone is the following: if you have two split a cake fairly between two people, the best way to do it is to have one person cut the cake and the second choose their slice. What do you do if you have N people?

This article from 1906 is well before newer methods of preservation, as well as innovative plastics. Simply pressing saran wrap against the cut sections will keep in moisture. The problem with the suggested method is how uninviting it is visually. A triangle piece of cake as a certain appeal that just cannot be matched.

kajinking:
Wait... Cake and science? Together?!

It is time once more...

Deploy The MEME!

No! I must resist!

I won't say it....I won't....

Deathfish15:
A triangle piece of cake as a certain appeal that just cannot be matched.

This has been scientifically verified. Triangle cake>non-triangle cake.

One major problem: This would seriously mess up the cake-to-frosting ratio on many of the pieces.

I was just planning on baking a nice carrot cake baked with "real" carrots and I needed another way to annoy the other eaters just enough to dissuade them from seconds (just looking out for no. 1). Maybe including this demonstrative lecture would be a good fallback plan.

Wait, so the guy who came up with this method...

Wasn't he also the guy who came up with eugenics?

This is a terrible idea and I'm quite glad that {A} it did not catch on and {B} the writer of such an idea is dead. Nobody cares about the 'inner flesh' of the cake. They want FROSTING.

Or you just eat it all at once like a normal person, yeesh.

The problem with this scientific method is that the first slice is extremely long and thin, not compatible with the pre-existing ecosystem of tiny cake plates. So that greatly increases cost of adaptation.

All scientifically speaking, obviously! :P

Yeah... I'm going to keep cutting my cakes the same way I always have... I mean, I've gotten too used to the method I use and I lack enough cakes to try to perfect this "new", "better" way of cutting cakes in general...

If you have cake left over to go dry, you're doing it wrong.

What if you want a smaller piece? Or a larger piece? What if you want half the goddamn cake, it's your birthday you should be allowed it.

If you're that concerned about freshness, would it not be smarter to bake a smaller cake?

This is only great if you are the only person eating the cake. But if you are the only person eating the cake, that's kind of depressing XD

This is indeed very scientific if you want a consistently moist cake day after day. It solves a problem nicely. Its not a recommendation to do it folks, no need to get your panties in a bunch.

The original article was published 7 years before the fridge was released for private use and before plastic wrap was commonplace in any cake loving household. Do we even need to go further into details why this is useless advice?

kailus13:
What if you want a smaller piece? Or a larger piece? What if you want half the goddamn cake, it's your birthday you should be allowed it.

If you're that concerned about freshness, would it not be smarter to bake a smaller cake?

Is it wrong that I read your post in Pinky Pie's voice?

OT: Thank the Emperor that this crap didn't catch on, like hell I'm eating my cake like that. Like someone else said, if you have cake left over, you did it wrong.

CardinalPiggles:
Do people not cover their food before they put it in the fridge?

this. i always cover my cake in a box or a bag and it never dries out, even after days.

 

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