Recently, I was in attendance at a business meeting with several colleagues. The meeting proceeded apace, until just shortly after we had ordered lunch. The events that followed gave rise to a flurry of research and experimentation, and ultimately this paper. I discovered that simply by placing my order, I had unwittingly stumbled onto the frontier of a new science.
This phenomenon, though frequently encountered, appears to have been either completely forgotten or willingly ignored since the beginning of the history of the scientific method. I am unable to determine which condition is most appropriate since I have been entirely unsuccessful at uncovering any previous research regarding this particular
What exactly is this uncharted discipline? This heretofore unrecorded phenomenon? It is the physics of french fries. Or as this paper is officially titled: “Observation and Partial Analysis of the Variable Disappearance Rate of Deep Fried Potato Slices.” And in layman’s terms, “Why is it that the number of fries I get to eat is never equivalent to a complete order?”
Following are just three of the several experiments I have conducted.
I) I was seated with two companions. As a control measure, I have absolutely no idea what either of them had ordered. My order was a Monte Cristo sandwich and french fries. Shortly after our food was delivered, I excused myself to retrieve some important papers from my store. (We were in a restaurant at the mall where my store was located.) On my return, I immediately noticed that the volume of the french fries on my plate was considerably reduced from what it had been originally.
Curious, but not yet alarmed, I inquired of the waitress as to the weight of an order of fries before serving. She, looking at me as if I had lost my mind, indicated that she had absolutely no idea (especially since there is no record of any prior research into this subject) what I was asking, but helpfully suggested that I ask the cook, who was sure to know. This astute piece of advice turned out to be the crux of this entire investigation, and the clue that ultimately led to my conclusions.
From interrogating the cook, I determined that the original weight was two ounces. Ignoring the strident protests of the waitress, the thoroughly interrogated cook, and the manager, I hurriedly scooped up the remaining potatoes and dumped them onto the scale. There was only a single ounce! Half of the original volume had disappeared, giving rise to the formula:
where ‘x’ is the volume of fries I was able to eat, ‘y’ is the original volume of fries on the order, ‘t’ is the amount of time I was gone, and ‘n’, the number of companions at the table.
II) The second experiment, initially, was identical: the same companions, the same orders, the same waitress, and exactly the same amount of fries on the order. (Yes, I asked.) This time, however, before leaving the table, I doused the items in question quite thoroughly with ketchup, thus introducing a random number, K, into the equation. Not only did the number of fries that disappeared increase, so too, did the rate of disappearance. Thus:
III) Not wanting to jump to any hasty conclusions, the next day I conducted yet a third experiment and drastically altered the parameters to point up any flaws in my still young hypothesis. This time, I eliminated my companions—I mean I didn’t invite them to lunch, not that I actually eliminated them—I eliminated my disappearance from the table, and I eliminated the Monte Cristo. This time the results were absolutely astounding! The number and weight of fries on the order equaled the number and weight of the fries I ate!
I ordered a second batch and again added the random number k. Once again,
Two possible theories readily suggest themselves from these experiments:
- A Monte Cristo either produces or attracts a black hole that devours only french fries;
- A Monte Cristo secretes, or exudes antimatter particles that reach out like fingers to annihilate the physical substance of french fried potatoes.
Obviously, much more research into this burgeoning science will be required before any definite conclusions can be reached, and tons of government money will be required to do this research. However, I believe a word of caution is in order here. We do not know yet that these black holes or antimatter particles confine themselves to the destruction of only french fries. The first step, and probably the most expensive, is going to be in determining what other substances are at risk. Please send your contributions to the Phrench Phried Physics Research Center in Glendale, AZ so that we may continue this important work.
This legal disclaimer and warning label is required by the FDA, the FCC, the IRS, the Surgeon General, the ATF, DOT, FBI, OSHA, NASA, the local PTA, and the OMB.
Please observe all known and implied safety measures when conducting your own experiments in this area. Remember, new sciences can be dangerous to the unwary experimenter.
This was the one that started this whole project. It started life as a hand-written dissertation on the ethics of some of my companions as relating to unattended food. Phrench Phried Physics was first posted on the Internet sometime in 1993 or 1994, I think, and at one time was a hyper-linked destination from almost every university physics page on the net. At least one of them is still in existence here and still has the original link from so long ago. There even used to be a copy on The Way Back Machine, but I am currently unable to retrieve it.
I am grateful for all the comments and email this particular piece has generated over the years and hope that you find it enjoyable as well.