Tuesday 24 February 2009

A mathematical reflection on Shrove Tuesday

A time for reflection

Today is Shrove Tuesday [1], the day before Ash Wednesday [2] when those of a traditional Christian religious inclination embark on 40 days of self-deprivation to end on Palm Sunday in what is the Lenten season.

There might be many who would give up something for Lent [3], having not prepared for it, I wonder what I would be giving up for Lent.

Maybe what I should be doing is adopting something for Lent, some reflection, some introspection, some reminiscing, some meditation, some resolve and some giving of thanks in solemnity.

A time of fattening

But today is Mardi Gras [4] (Fat Tuesday), we get to throw together all sorts of leftovers and gorge ourselves silly before straitened and frugal times of spiritual renewal and reawakening.

In traditional households, it is Pancake Day and what toppings can one desire for pancakes than the richest flavours that would have calorie counters choking on their cholesterol.

It would be easier for me to obtain ready-made pancakes, maple syrup and ice cream from my supermarket and make happy with a quick oven warming but that is about to be marred with inanity.

In pursuit of useless science

A lecturer of mathematics first starts making things including pancakes and has ended up making things up with some complex mathematical formula needed to create the perfect pancake [5].

The amazing formula is “100 - [10L - 7F + C(k - C) + T(m - T)]/(S - E) with the closer you get to a 100 - the better the pancake.

Someone must be pulling my Lenten cords as it seems I should first be shopping for a Non Stick Aluminium Frying Pan – thankfully, I already have the choices of English Shropshire Honey [6], English Salisbury Plain Honey [7] or Scottish Heather Honey [8] – all acquired from your favourite grocery – Fortnum & Masons [9] on the Piccadilly last weekend when I snuck into London.

So, frying pan at the right temperature (T) using a thermocouple thermometer, number of lumps in batter (L) with some consistency value (C) and a flipping score (F) – flipping heck, it is a pancake for crying out loud.

Better to use the pancake recipe [10] on AllRecipes.com than follow this mad scientist tripe, the credit crunch can so easily be attributed to mathematicians [11] making things up with their complex investment vehicles that gave birth to superfluous credit and debt systems without the attendant risk balancing equations that has now brought our economies down to the knees.

Make things, make pancakes

Never before have we needed people and brains that make things so much as mathematicians should begin to think of how to make it up to us for their formulaic concoctions of silly pancakes and debt instruments – this time of Lent must surely bring us the greater repentance to desist from making things up.

If I ever wanted to use this formula it would be just to get the pancake mix to throw over the heads of mathematicians held up to public ridicule in stocks at the market square – the more rotten eggs and curdled milk the better.

One last day to descend into the debauched excess of a goodly pancake before one repents of it all in Lent with one last prayer – Dear Lord, in these straitened times, deliver our pancakes from the machinations of atrocious mathematicians bent on creating inscrutable formulae that equate to rotten pancakes ready to be binned.

Keep off our pancakes – I protest!


[1] Shrove Tuesday - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Ash Wednesday - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Lent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Mardi Gras - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] Formula for perfect pancake unveiled by scientists - Telegraph

[6] English Shropshire Honey

[7] English Salisbury Plain Honey

[8] Scottish Heather Honey

[9] Fortnum & Mason UK - Experts in food hampers and gift hampers

[10] Pancakes I - Allrecipes

[11] BBC NEWS | Business | The maths of the credit crunch

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