There are many areas to explore in the sciences, and one of them has to be comparative gustatory geography. Some rogue scientists put plains and pancakes to the test, in the ultimate battle of the breakfast foods.

Three geographers took it upon themselves to put an old catch phrase to the test. They wanted to see if Kansas, the broad, midwestern home state of Dorothy and Clark Kent, lived up to its reputation. Many, driving through the level plains of Kansas, have exclamed that it was 'as flat as a pancake'. Over the course of a year, they decided to test if the old saying was true.

First they went to the US Geological Survey to get an east-west digital elevation model of the state of Kansas. Then they went rogue. Brushing aside the 'no food or drink' sign in a lab at their local research facility, they took control of the confocal laser microscope. In it, they put a 2 centimeter wide strip of pancake that they had recently acquired from the International House of Pancakes. They compared both.


A perfect flatness quotient, in which no two points on a surface are at different levels, would be 1.0. The pancake was a surprisingly spiky 0.957, with both sharp spikes and an overall 'lump' in the center. Kansas, majestic prairie state that it was, left that pancake, metaphorically, in the dirt. It was an ultra-flat 0.9997, designated by the scientists as 'damn flat.' It had both less of an overall slope than the pancake and fewer small hills.

It seems, when people said that Kansas was, "as flat as a pancake," they were being modest.


Via and The Guardian.