Posts Tagged With: Isaac Newton

John Wallis and Infinity

Sure, Greek philosophers, and other smarty pants after them, talked up a storm now and then about the concept of infinity. But none of it wrote down a symbol for it. So they all got forgotten, except for Socrates. And as we all know, Socrates was forced to take hemlock for not coming up with a symbol for infinity. The ancient Athenians took their proto-calculus discussions seriously.

One day, British mathematician and doughnut lover, John Wallis, was sitting at his table looking at two alluring pink doughnuts. His next door neighbor, Carl La Fong sat across from John gazing longingly at the pink delights. The great British painter, John Hoskins, happened to be there. This is his painting, “Two Pink Doughnuts.” It hangs in the Tate Museum in London, England.











“May I have one of your pink doughnuts?” asked La Fong.

“No, you may not,” said Wallis, “I love pink doughnuts beyond all measure.”

“Would you, could you, give me one pink doughnut if you had three?” asked La Fong.

“No, I would not. I would eat all three. I would eat them just with me.”

“Would you, could you, give me one pink doughnut if you had four?”

Wallis shook is head. “No, I would not. I would eat all four. I would eat them by the door.”

“Would you, could you, give me one pink doughnut, if you had an infinite number of pink doughnuts?”

“No, I would not. I would eat an infinite number of doughnuts.” Wallis scratched his head. “Say, what would the symbol for infinity look like?”

“Like this, you greedy man.” La Fong squished the two doughnuts.

And, lo and behold, John Hoskins painted the squished doughnuts. The wildly popular painting is on display at the British Science Museum in London. It’s called, “Infinity.” Here it is:







And so due to Wallis, La Fong, and Hoskins, we now have the symbol for infinity. Sir Isaac Newton used it to develop calculus. Now you know.


– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on

Categories: history, proof you cannot deny | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Magwinya With Mince (Fat Cakes With Beef Filling)

Botswanan Entree

(Fat Cakes With Beef Filling)


1 medium potato
2 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 tomato
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
⅔ pound ground beef
2 tablespoons chutney, mango or other fruit
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup water


3¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
½ tablespoon yeast
1½ cups warm water
2½ cups vegetable oil


Dutch oven

Serves 5. Takes 2 hours 20 minutes.


Peel potato. Cut potato into ¼” cubes. Mince garlic cloves, onions, and tomato. Add garlic, onion, and vegetable oil to pan. Sauté at medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Stir frequently. Add curry powder and ground beef. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes or until beef browns. Stir frequently.

Reduce heat to medium. Add potato, tomato, chutney, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until liquid thickens to a sauce. Stir enough to keep filling from burning. Remove from heat.


Add flour, salt, sugar, and yeast to large mixing bowl. Mix with whisk or fork. Add water, a little a time, mixing with spoon until a soft dough forms. Knead dough with hands for 5 minutes or until you get a smooth dough ball. Cover and let sit for 40 minutes or until dough doubles in size.

Form 10 smaller dough balls. or magwinyas, with hands. Stretch the magwinyas until they become oval, Add vegetable oil to Dutch oven. Heat oil at medium heat. Oil is hot enough when a bit of added dough will start to dance. Add 3 or 4 magwinyas at a time. Cover. Deep fry for 2 minutes or until bottom of magwinyas turn golden brown. Turn over with spatula or fork. Deep fry for 2 minutes or until the new bottom of the magwinyas turn golden brown and fork inserted into them comes out clean. Remove with slotted spoon and place on plates covered with paper towels. Repeat for successive batches.


Wait until magwinyas cool enough to be touched, about 10 more minutes. Slice magwinyas along their length almost to the bottom. (It should look like an open hot-dog bun.) Push the sides of the magwinyas in from the inside. (This lets it hold more.) Place ⅓ cup filling in magwinyas. Close magwinyas.


1) Look at the above photo for this dish. The mince filling sits securely in the fat cake. It doesn’t fly up to the ceiling However, if you were to turn the magwinya with mince upside down something dramatic would happen. The mince would fall out of the fat cake and fall onto the plate.

2) The plate is just a wee bit closer to the center of the Earth than in the picture. Perhaps there’s a reason for the falling mince filing.

3) Spoiler alert, it’s gravity.

4) In 1686, Isaac Newton and his sweetheart were sitting under a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g when an apple fell on his head and stopped all the smooching.

5) “Ow,” said Isaac. “I wonder why the apple fell,” said his amour. “Perhaps some unseen force acted on it.”

6) “Wahdu,” said Isaac. (Wahdu is an Indonesian word expressing amazement. You’ll have to excuse the great scientist lapse into Indonesian. It’s likely he suffered from a temporary conclusion.) “I’ll bet it’s one of the elemental forces of the universe. I shall call it gravity.”

7) Isaac left his love in the lurch and scurried back to his study to write up his theory on gravity and other basic forces. He called his magnum opus, his great contribution to scientific understanding, Principia Mathematica. He presented his worthy work to the Royal Society of London.

8) Who promptly turned it down. They had no money having blown their entire publishing budget on “The History of Fishes.”

9) Thank goodness, for the great astronomer, Edmund Halley, who paid for the printing of Principia Mathematica. Isaac never did marry, but the world was made safe for the study of physics.


– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on

Categories: cuisine, history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fluffernutter Sandwich

American Entree



2 slices white bread
1 glop* marshmallow fluff**
1 glop creamy peanut butter

* = A precise scientific term meaning the amount of peanut butter, or fluff, that you want to spread with a knife.
** = See preceding recipe for marshmallow fluff. Or buy it at stores if you live in Massachusetts or its neighboring states. It can also found online.

Serves 1. Takes 3 minutes.


Spread peanut butter on one bread slice. Spread marshmallow fluff on other. Put bread slices together.


1) It takes a little skill to cut a fluffernutter sandwich in two. If you slice too slowly or press down with a dull knife, you will most likely squoosh the marshmallow fluff out of the sandwich.

2) “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” – Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

3) Isaac Newton invented the fig newton.

4) On July 18, 1673, Isaac tried to cut a fig newton in half with a dull knife. The slow impact of his knife pushed two halves apart. Figgy stuff came out of the newton pieces. “Wow,” he said, “this gives me an idea. With a big enough knife, perhaps 100 yards long and a large enough fig newton, perhaps 50 yards by 50 yards, I could propel my mansion to the moon.” Space travel looked to be a few years away.

5) But no, just a few minutes after having this brainstorm, his comely maid, Sarah Bellum, sashayed by wearing a tight-fitting dress. Sir Isaac’s blood flowed away from his brain and space travel would be forgotten for three centuries.

6) Then in 1958, Pedro Erickson, head chef at NASA’s two-MichelinTM star restaurant served fluffernutter sandwiches to the engineers. He cut a sandwich in half. The two sandwich halves moved ever so slightly apart while marshmallow fluff oozed out the cut. “Aha,” cried Peter Pepper, “we can use solid-state fuel to propel our rockets. If not with marshmallow fluff, then with something else.” And with that explosive idea, NASA’s mission to space would really take off.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on

Categories: cuisine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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