## A Mathematical Guide to Optimize Pizza Buying

###### By Anupum Pant

The logical engineer in me has always paid a lot of attention to how well my money is being put to use, or if something I bought was well worth it. So, before buying anything, I usually love to add in a basic mathematical calculation that would ensure the best logical use of my money. I used to do the same when I was studying engineering and had come up with a handful of tricks, which enabled me to eat the best food, in best quantities at the lowest prices.

Till date, I had relied on calculations for individual joints to buy the pizza that gave me the best value for money (irrespective of what my stomach could fit). In other words, I had never used statistical methods, as I always went to only 2 or 3 pizza places and never felt a need to do it statistically.

So yesterday, while skimming through blogs on NPR, I came across a post by Quoctrun Bui, where he had calculated the best valued pizza size using statistical methods.

The final findings of his study based on 74,476 prices from 3,678 pizza places were condensed into a graph which depicted data as follows (here is the link to the article for an interactive version of the graph).

### Conclusion

The above graph plots 74,476 data points to find the pizza size that gives you the best value for money. The y-axis plots price-per-square-inch – the lesser price-per-square-inch you pay, the better deal you score.

This basically means that buying the largest pizza gets the most value out of your money. As the size increases the value for money increases or the price you pay per-square-inch of pizza decreases. – Statistically speaking.

I felt a need to add value to the study by finding how well ‘buying a large pizza’ to get the best value works in India.  So, I selected a popular joint Dominos (where I go all the time) for the test. I dug out their menu (probably an old one) to see if buying the large pizza always works in India. Here is a record of price you pay per square inch at Dominos for various sizes and categories of pizzas. (Click the image to see a better version)

### Conclusion (Dominos India)

• No, always buying the large pizza clearly is not the best option at Dominos in India.
• A small pizza is the best option (economically) if you are buying from the categories: Simply veg, Veg I or Simply Non-veg.
• A large pizza is the best option (economically) if you are buying from the categories: Veg II, Non-Veg I or Non-Veg II
• Never go for the small Non-veg II pizza. It is the worst choice you can make.
• Never ever get a medium pizza from any category!

I’d love to see someone doing the same thing for other popular pizza joints. Do get back to me if you have done it. I’ll add it to the article as an update.

## The Musty Old Book Scent

###### By Anupum Pant

Note: Since I’ve been getting quite a lot of visitors on this blog now, I think it would make sense to imbue a conversational tone in my posts. At least with enough readers, I won’t feel as if I’m talking to the air. So, instead of just creating a repository for archived trivia, I’ll take freedom to write my blogs in a more personal way from now on. You’ll have to wait for comments though (Tomorrow I’ll tell you why). Till then, you can get in touch through my about page.

No longer does a major chunk of human population has the drive or patience to go through a long chain of black letters. Instead, we prefer a stream of individual quick-visual-gags (memes). Others like to listen to audio books while they are slashing fruits on their smart-phones; some others like to ‘read’ info-graphics instead of blog posts.
A blog post without images is quickly discarded as an uninteresting one (like mine). Nevertheless, I believe, among those billions of people on the internet now, there is a tiny chunk of people who like to read. And a tinier part of that tiny chunk of people have come here to read this. I salute you. Salute me back on twitter.

That said, I’m not against info-graphics. I love them too. Also, it doesn’t mean I’m against audio books or memes.

So, if you’ve read past the two paragraphs above, I can safely assume, you are one of those who like to read. And I think we’ll connect well if I state – There is nothing like the smell of an old book; or a fresh book for some. Both ways, I think it makes sense to book lovers.

### The smell according to experts

Unike Petrichor, the smell of old books does not have a specific name but you could call it “musty” in a good way. Experts need a much more detailed phrase to communicate the subjective experience. Back in 2009, the lead scientist who looked into what actually caused the smell described it as:

A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness. [Source]

The pleasant aromatic smell is due to aromatic compounds emitted mainly from papers made from ground wood which are characterized by their yellowish-brown color. They emit vanilla-like, sweetly fragrant vanillin, aromatic anisol and benzaldehyde, with fruity almond-like odor. On the other hand, terpene compounds, deriving from rosin, which is used to make paper more impermeable to inks, contribute to the camphorous, oily and woody smell of books. A mushroom odour is caused by some other, intensely fragrant aliphatic alcohols. [Source]

### What causes the book scent

A typical “old book” smell is a mixture of fragrant volatile substances and does not comprise of any single compound. So, all books do not smell the same, as materials and printing inks vary from book to book.

As a book ages, a compound called Lignin that makes up the cell walls of wood used to make paper, starts breaking down. It releases a smell that is a lot similar to Vanilla. In fact this is the same compound that makes Vanilla smell like Vanilla. This smell is a major contributor among several other scents that make up the characteristic book scent.
Other factors that may cause the scent to vary could be due to the kind of ink and chemicals used to process the paper.

### Bring it home

It is a good thing for book worms who just can’t stop smelling their books. A creative enterprise, Lucky scent, sells it in a bottle – Paper Passion perfume – sold here.

If you prefer reading eBooks and at the same time also miss the sweet  book scent, you’ll find this interesting – Classic Musty Scent and New Book scent.

Another company CafeScribe shipped “musty-smelling” scratch-and-sniff stickers with every eBook order. I’m not sure if they still do it. This was around 6 years back.

Disclaimer: I’m in no way related to the above products, they aren’t affiliate links.

## Miniature Sealed Self-Sustaining Ecosystem

###### By Anupum Pant
1. 53 years ago, David Latimer (80) from Surrey planted an indoor Spiderwort in a huge glass globular bottle. He has watered it just once, in the year 1972. Since then, this self-sustaining ecosystem, has been sealed away from the outside world for around 40 years. In spite of being sealed away like that, the plant has grown very well in its own miniature ecosystem [Picture]. The only regular external energy it has received has been in the form of light. [more about this self-sustaining ecosystem and how it works]
2. The EcoSphere or the Original EcoSphere takes it to the next level by introducing a shrimp in a similar setting. Like David Latimer’s bottle, this is also a self-sustaining ecosystem consisting of algae, bacteria and shrimp. The company that sells these things says that the shrimps would last for just around 10 years. Although, they also claim of 25-year-old spheres with living shrimps.
10 years is little as compared to the ecosystem discussed in the first point. But we are talking about a pet living in a completely sealed space for 10 years, without demanding food, change of water or an appointment with the vet. For these little creatures it is probably a safe haven away from the dirty oil slicked oceans and predators; or probably just a prison.

These little biospheres are a far simpler and smaller versions of our big worlds. We are like the shrimp and the trees, our algae. This diagram explains in a simple way, how these artificial, extremely simplified versions of Earth work – [Diagram]

The shrimp and algae biospheres were discovered by two scientists, the late Dr. Joe Hanson and the late Dr. Clair Folsome. Later, NASA became interested in these systems. There got interested because:

1. This tiny model of the Earth could add information to NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth program for studying Earth’s biosphere.
2. It could help NASA’s research on human life support systems directed toward the construction of space stations for exploring our solar system.

Make it for yourself: Make magazine published a detailed DIY guide on how to create these living biospheres at home. [Link] Carl Sagan’s Review of these biospheres: The World Arrived in The Mail.

Random Foliage Fact:

The world’s smallest park is located in the median strip of SW Naito Parkway, approaching esplanade along the Willamette River near SW Taylor Street in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Mill Ends Park, a 2 ft is a circular park, has held a place in the Guinness book of Records since 1971. It isn’t a park you can send your children to. – [Wikipedia]