Friday, August 17, 2007

Eat Like a Geek

Actually, I think that the original meaning of "geek" was the guy in the carnival who bit the head off a live chicken, but that's not our subject here. Julianne Dalcanton of Cosmic Variance has this post on how to eat like a geek:

How do you eat your candy?
Julianne at 7:45 am, August 14th, 2007
My temporary officemate runs down to the vending machine and buys a bag of gummi bears. He dumps them on the desk, sorts them by color, and then procedes to eat them in order of increasing bin size (i.e. the pile of 1 orange one, then the pile of 3 yellow ones, then the pile of 4 green ones, etc).

If I buy a bag of M&M’s, I sort them by color, then figure out a division that lets me arrange them in a triangle, with one color per horizontal row, but allowing colors to be repeated (i.e. it’s ok for 9 red M&M’s to show up as a row of 7, and then further up, a row of 2). I then eat off each diagonal, producing a progressively smaller triangle, but one that maintains the horizontal color structure till the tasty end.

My kids, who I suspect inherited a geek-streak a mile wide, also sort multicolored candy into patterns and make up an algorithm for eating it.

The non-scientists who I have asked about this habit look at me like I’m nuts. (So do people who grew up in large families, because someone was bound to snarf the candy before they could take the time to develop this particular neurosis.)


Some of the commenters are pretty weird eaters as well. I myself sort my M&Ms by color, identify the various colors with quark flavors, and consume them three at a time, starting with proton, neutron, lambda, sigma zero and so on in (more or less) mass order. I usually run out of u and d quarks somewhere in the baryon decuplet, in which case I need to move on to heavy quark exotics.

OK, I don't really. But I am considering it.