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The fascinating crunchy geometry of Pringles

Yes, Pringles are delicious, globally popular and make a pile of profit for brand owner, Kellogg. But there’s much more to them than a yummy snack. If you’re an engineer, your technical curiosity would be tickled by the fact that each Pringle is designed to take the geometry of a hyperbolic paraboloid.

You’re may also wonder now how the bottom-most Pringle doesn’t crack with all of the other Pringles stacked on top of it? Apart from the fact that a Pringle naturally fits between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, why is the chip’s hyperbolic paraboloid geometry so special?

And how is this particular geometry exploited in architecture and engineering? Here’s an explanation of why this unique geometry is fascinating.

Perfectly executed geometries are always pleasant to look at as their natural proportions are simply eye-catching. Just like how a perfectly symmetrical human face, that is naturally proportioned with the golden ratio, is always deemed beautiful or pretty. In the case of a Pringle chip, its intersecting curves form a sturdy structure as well as an attractive geometry.

This special geometry of the hyperbolic paraboloid

What is interesting about a hyperbolic paraboloid is the point where the maximum and the minimum of the two principal curvatures meet each other at a zero point. This is known as the saddle point or the minimax point.

So, what makes it particularly interesting?

The hyperbolic paraboloid’s intersecting double curvature prevents a line of stress from forming, which doesn’t encourage a crack to naturally propagate. That’s why Pringles have that extra crunch in them when you either bite a piece off or when you put a whole Pringle in your mouth.

If you frequently eat Pringles you would know that they never break off symmetrically but instead, they crack in different directions and produce flakes with varying shapes. It’s all due to the hyperbolic paraboloid geometry of each chip.

Moreover, the two opposing curves perform well together under tension and compression, which give each Pringle some structural strength despite their relatively thin shape.

The geometrical sturdiness of a hyperbolic paraboloid is widely exploited in architecture and engineering especially in structural roof construction…… Read the full story HERE

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