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Poll

Which way up did your toast fall?

Butter Side Down 1 in 5 times
Butter Side Down 2 in 5 times
Butter Side Down 3 in 5 times
Butter Side Down 4 in 5 times
Butter Side Down 5 in 5 times

Author Topic: Butter side up or down?  (Read 8577 times)

Offline daveshorts

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Butter side up or down?
« on: 13/12/2007 23:11:25 »
Is it just an urban myth that a piece of toast normally lands butter side down? In this week's kitchen science we are going to find out, so we want you to do the experiment.

We want you to try pushing a buttered piece of toast, gently off a table (probably onto a piece of newspaper.
Repeat it 5 times and then just tell us how often it lands butter side down by filling in this poll.
« Last Edit: 14/12/2007 18:36:43 by daveshorts »


 

Offline Sarah Elizabeth

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Butter side up or down?
« Reply #1 on: 17/12/2007 15:08:46 »
there are already problems with that method : the piece of toast cant be pushed, it has to be spontaneous. Also, the piece of toast would probably be the butter side up on the plate, so is more likely to fall that way down. If you really have to do the experiment, change the way the toast is on the table or plate first... by the way, Myth Busters have tried this experiment, and theyre results you may be interested to know, were more or less 50/50 !they had used something like 100 pieces of toast.
 

another_someone

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Butter side up or down?
« Reply #2 on: 17/12/2007 19:39:23 »
How thick a layer of butter?

One thing that occurred to me is a thick, smooth, layer of butter (not molten butter) would have less air resistance than the usual rough surface of the toast (then again, boundary layer effects on the rough toast might have other behavioural aspects, rather like the dimples on a golf ball).
 

Offline techmind

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Butter side up or down?
« Reply #3 on: 17/12/2007 23:39:54 »
Is it just an urban myth that a piece of toast normally lands butter side down? In this week's kitchen science we are going to find out, so we want you to do the experiment.

We want you to try pushing a buttered piece of toast, gently off a table (probably onto a piece of newspaper.
Repeat it 5 times and then just tell us how often it lands butter side down by filling in this poll.
I remember hearing about a previous investigation of this phenomenon, and I think one conclusion it that from a typical drop, the toast naturally does 3 (or maybe it was one, or five) half-turns, thus landing upside-down to how it started -- which would be butter-side down for most people. (I did have a phase as a child of eating butter-and-marmite toast marmite-side down cos I got a more intense flavour that way  ;D...)

The other explanation is that one tends to only remember when it lands butter-side down as it's more messy and needs more clean-up. So the memory/perception of real-world drops is skewed.

Modified to add:
I've just been doing the experiment with a toast-sized pack of Christmas cards (I'm s'posed to be writing them! ;)) --less messy than toast-- and have found that when slowly slid off something table-height the pack fairly reliably does a half-turn and thus lands face-down.
Both sides of the pack of cards are similar plastic film, so air resistance has nothing to do with it. I think you could prove the principle with A-level applied maths and angular momentum.

Question is: is this a realistic model of the most common way for toast to be "dropped"?

The result is more random if the cards are slid off quickly/abruptly (the accidentally-swipe-toast-with-sleeve model)...
« Last Edit: 17/12/2007 23:57:42 by techmind »
 

Offline Carol-A

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Butter side up or down?
« Reply #4 on: 18/12/2007 10:32:32 »
I read that an amazing energy source is to tie a piece of toast, butter side up, to the back of a cat, and then drop it from a height. Toast always lands butter side down, and a cat always lands on its feet, and so at some point before the ground the cat/toast stops and begins to spin...... :)
 

Offline RD

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Butter side up or down?
« Reply #5 on: 18/12/2007 13:45:21 »
I think the dimensions of the piece of toast, the height of the table and that the toast starts the fall from a butter-side-up position are responsible for a higher incidence of butter-side-down outcomes.
 

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Butter side up or down?
« Reply #5 on: 18/12/2007 13:45:21 »

 

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