Math goggles: tasty sphere packing around the world

Math goggles help you notice math everywhere. Maria João Lagarto has great math goggles when she makes adventurous Pinterest collections. For this post, I selected examples of round fruits, confections, and other morsels packed into triangles, pyramids, or cones. Even the Wikipedia article on sphere packing uses a pyramid of oranges!

I used to play with a few beads of caviar as a kid, back in Ukraine. Red caviar is a great plaything because of the weird texture and beautiful translucency. But I’ve never managed to build a pyramid. Check out this caviar-inspired, one-paragraph review of 400 years of the history of sphere packing at fotomat.es.

Meanwhile, across the world – in Thailand  – there is an annual celebration with an awesome name: Monkey Buffet Festival. It features giant pyramids of fruit for monkeys to enjoy. Yes, monkeys know how to drink out of cans.

They also build giant fruit pyramids in India. This photo is from the All India Mango Festival.

Meanwhile, Europe stacks its chocolates into cones or pyramids:

And Americans play with cereal and pie.

Play with your food – pack some spheres!

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8 comments on “Math goggles: tasty sphere packing around the world”
1. Olga Y says:

The website is pure awesomeness!

We did what you suggested and packed some spheres. Apparently if you fill a container with cherries it is heavier than if you fill it with apples. and it takes fewer cups of water to fill it up while washing the fruit!

And then I totally lost my 1-year old to cherries.

Sounds… sweet!

Olga, do you have any pictures of your packing adventures? Love the explorations: easy, but complex.

• Olga Y says:

Unfortunately, we didn’t take pictures that time. But we’ve just integrated a couple of potatoes and this time we took a few.
Turns out, if you cut it into 16 pieces you get three types of fries out of one potato:

Then we tossed the potatoes with some herbs and oil and baked them :)