Friday, April 13, 2007

No. 0010 - Cookbook for Engineers

Last night I was trying to make some Chinese BBQ pork and the sauce instructed "16 oz of pork to every 5 tablespoon of sauce". I though to myself how on earth can people measure pork with the units of volume?! I honestly thought the instructions were bogus and blamed to the fact that the sauce was made in China and people there don't know what they are talking about. So I busted out my trusty TI and started to do some unit analysis. Given I have 1.85 lb (that's pound force) of pork chops, I first divided it by the gravity of earth which would give me 0.0575 slugs (British mass unit) of pork. Then I ran into a wall, because now that I know the mass of the pork, in order to translate that into volume, I must know the density of pork. I have access to handbooks and information to just about any material properties there are on this earth but density of pork!? Common?! I even have the thermal conductivity constant for bananas and cake batter but the density of pork?! As hunger and frustration begin to set in, I had no choice but to give it up for the night. Later did I find out that 16 oz = 1 lbf which makes no sense to me. Wouldn't it be nice if all the cooking units would just standardize (better yet, stay away from the British units and stick to SI)? Imagine cooking instruction that would say "marinade 3.5 newtons of beef" or "mix in 4.73E-4 cubic meter of flour". The beauty of SI is that gravity is about 10 m/s^2 so that would makes the math really nice. I would also suggest cooking instruction to have the density values of the ingridents as well so I can always calculate for the total volume of the meal. This is handy because I can always solve for the volume of food that I'm cooking and set that equal to the volume of stomachs that I'll be feeding. How wonderful is that! No left overs!

P.S. - I must give half the credit to my friend, Tyler Ball, for this invention because we came up with this idea together about 1-2 years ago and it just came to me that "yeah, that was a good idea!"

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