By Kimberly Crandell
So the kids fell asleep late last night after finally crashing from their Halloween sugar high. There are smashed pumpkins out on the street, toilet paper in the trees, and still 3 to 5 pounds of candy remaining per child. The pumpkins and toilet paper can be cleaned up… but what do you do with all that candy? You can’t possibly eat it all, right?
Well go ahead and give it a your best shot. But a week from now when it’s still around and you can’t stand the sight of the stuff, you’ll be happy to know that science once again has a solution.
What could be a better combination than candy and science? (Well, except for chocolate and peanut butter, of course.) Take a handful of scientific principles, mix them liberally with a pile of leftover candy… and Voila! Yummy, sugary, scientific goodness!
So grab a chocolate bar, and enjoy. Candy isn’t just for eating anymore.
10. Marvel in the engineering brilliance and efficiency of the shape of M&M’s.
M&M’s are one of my all-time favorite candies. Their colorful, compact, and they travel well. They’re fantastic alone: but also pretty damn good sprinkled over ice cream, baked in cookies, or folded into Rice Krispy treats.
But M&M’s have developed a whole new group of fans in the science community, and it has nothing to do with how they taste. It seems that M&M’s are a marvel of packing efficiency, and are actually leading to the next generation of design for heat shields and reduced-porosity glass with exceptional transparency.
It seems that the simple act of pouring a bag of M&M’s into a bowl illustrates the propensity of squashed or stretched versions of spheres snuggle together more tightly than randomly packed spheres do. Really, it’s been proven… with bags and bags of M&M’s, and hours of study from talented and dedicated grad students.
According to Sidney R. Nagel of the University of Chicago. "This work is really beautiful. It enhances our understanding of one of the outstanding questions in science - namely, how densely various types of objects can pack together.”
Well said, Sidney. However, don’t be surprised if the University Alumni don’t get a bit upset to discover that part of their generous donations potentially went towards buying candy for grad students to play around with.
I suppose it makes sense though, right? Before M&M/Mars got into the act, the human body recognized the efficiency of this particular shape when creating platelets. The component of the blood that must be the MOST efficient at packing together densely to create a blood clot are surprisingly shaped similarly to our snuggly-shaped M&M’s.
Don’t believe me, or those geniuses at the University of Chicago? Grab some of those leftover bags of M&M’s; and their plumper, rounder, fruit-flavored cousins, the Skittles; and compare how many of each you can fit into the same space. I bet you’ll find that you’ll be able to squeeze in several more of the sleeker and streamlined M&M’s than you will of the pudgier Skittles. And good news, you’ve used up some of your excess inventory of candy-coated treats.
9. Add some Spark to the Dark with Wint-O-Green Lifesavers.
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