Thanks to Math, We Can Calculate the Benefits of Human Sacrifice

Most of us would agree that human sacrifice is a bad idea. Yet many ancient civilizations (and some more modern ones) engaged in religious rituals that involved sacrificing people. Why do so many societies evolve a system of human sacrifice, despite the obvious moral drawbacks? A group of social scientists has just published a statistical analysis in Nature that reveals how this grisly practice has fairly predictable results, which benefit elites in socially stratified cultures.

Source: Thanks to math, we can calculate the benefits of human sacrifice

The moral of the story seems to be that you should promptly sacrifice anyone who thinks human sacrifice seems like a good idea.

Scientists Explain the Physics of the Perfect Pancakes

Have you ever wondered why your pancakes sometimes have ugly craters, or a weird ring around their edges? A new analysis of pancake recipes could help you exploit physics to make the perfect pancake — and possibly one day save your sight.

Source: Scientists Explain the Physics of the Perfect Pancakes

There’s an interesting section in “The Food Lab,” a hybrid science/cook-book, about how the ideal amount of baking powder to use in pancake batter so that pancakes end up a nice golden-brown. It also includes a buttermilk pancake recipe that I’ve tried a few times and which I found pretty tasty. It suggests separating out the egg whites and whipping them in order to make a fluffier pancake.  This also works great when making sweet potato pie.

Math, Not Lifestyle or Genetics: Why You Might Get Cancer

Eat healthy, exercise regularly, die anyways.

Why? That’s the first word on many lips after a cancer diagnosis. “It’s a perfectly reasonable question,” says Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who has spent a lifetime trying to answer it. Thanks to his friendship with a recently minted Ph.D. in applied mathematics, the two now propose a framework arguing that most cancer cases are the result of biological bad luck.

In a paper this week in Science, Vogelstein and Cristian Tomasetti, who joined the biostatistics department at Hopkins in 2013, put forth a mathematical formula to explain the genesis of cancer.

…The idea emerged during one of the pair’s weekly brainstorming sessions in Vogelstein’s office. They returned to an age-old question: How much of cancer is driven by environmental factors, and how much by genetics? To solve that, Tomasetti reasoned, “I first need to understand how much is by chance and take that out of the picture.”


There is a difference between cancer initiation and cancer promotion. Many environmental factors favor existing tumors but do not create them. Hence initiation can be random, while promotion can be environment-induced.

Pancakes: Mathematically Precise

For the math major in all of us…

Source: Spirocakes with my dad – youtube, 2:01 minutes

If you served those to me without warning I’d enjoy how pretty it was for about a second before asking where the rest of my pancake is.  Pancake syrup and bacon goes together great, but yogurt on pancakes was surprisingly good (and healthier!) too.

Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.  I’d butter go now…

Unit Pricing Labels Can Trick You into Spending More

Unit pricing makes comparing products—from one brand to the next or between different sizes—more like comparing apples to apples, so it’s easier to see which item really saves you the most money. Unfortunately, the unit pricing on the labels you see at the grocery store isn’t always reliable.

Source: How the Unit Pricing Labels in Stores Can Trick You into Spending More

TLDR: Read tags, apply common sense and do the math yourself.