Pringles: The Edible Hyperbolic Paraboloid
My wife forwarded an email with a link to a CNN article and subject line, “Your husband will love this.” Uh-oh. Even my closest friends cannot correctly predict what I will and will not love, so how would a colleague of my wife — who only knows me from an introduction at a professional reception — be able to make such a prediction?
But the article did not disappoint. The author wrote about the mathematically satisfying shape of Pringles®, and she quoted her husband thus:
They [Lays Stax] set themselves up as a Pringles competitor, but it’s an entirely different curvature!
I have never met the author, but her last name was familiar. As luck would have it, her math professor husband and I taught together at a gifted camp for several summers. Small world, eh?
My favorite line of the article was from the last paragraph.
Flavor is subjective. Math is irrefutable.
What I enjoyed most about this occurrence was the intersection of several math topics. The article discusses parabolic cylinders and hyperbolic paraboloids, which are topics in multivariable calculus; a colleague of my wife forwarded a link about an article written by the wife of a former colleague, which demonstrates social network theory; and, a colleague of my wife is not equivalent to the wife of my colleague, which shows non‑commutativity.
My two cents? Pringles® rule.