building howbigismypotato

The story of a page and a kitchen tool:

Thursday, September 28, 2006


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Is it useful? Is it a waste of time?
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, you're just mad

1:06 AM  
Blogger JJ said...

This is an awesome use of technology! Kudos to you

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But how fat is my potato? It could be very thin or very fat but have the same surface area? Wouldn't the fat one take longer to cook? And have more calories? Can I create a 3d map of my potato for more accuracy?...

By the way this is awesome. I often use milk bottles to help me work out how much liquid I need in recipes!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Alistair Jones said...

Suzie, good point about the "fatness". If you think that most potatoes are approximately ellipsoid, then it's possible to calculate the volume using the three dimensions of the containing cuboid. The flat web page can only measure two of those three dimensions at once, so the results could be very wrong.
I did consider having two "cross-sections" on screen and asking people to rotate the potato. It was pretty hard to use though.
Thankfully there are two things that lessen the problem:
1) My experience is that most potatoes are pretty much circular on the long axis. This means that two of the three dimensions are quite similar.
2) People naturally put the "flattest" face of the potato against the screen. So we probably get to measure the longest dimension and one of the short ones. The missing dimension is probably close to the shorter measured dimension.

I've tried to account for all this in the maths, but I've probably made some primary-school mistake. Do you have any thin or fat potatoes to test it out?

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to know if you've managed to come up with the correct Partial Differential Equation to measure temperature diffusion in accordance with your potato-volumetrics system?

I store this member of the Solanaceae family in my pocket during the cold-weather months and would find it very useful to know how long my potatoes can be expected to keep me warm on a walk in sub-freezing weather. This would also help me in deciding how large of potato I need to utilize, how many, and how large my pockets need be. Any feedback that you can provide would be most helpful. Thank you kindly.

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an awsome website!! I mean, finding the mass of a potato!!!
You got to be americans all of you, right? Anyways, very helpful in my essay pepole, no really.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Alistair Jones said...

Glad you enjoyed it. As it happens, I'm not American; I'm from London.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Nick Alexander said...

hey man, i love the site...and so does Carlson's Crowd apparently. the potato is the fricken biggest thing on the screen. is your new site?

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My potato weighs two and a half tonnes

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can i order a 20kg potato please with a strawberry milkshake and do you deliver for free. Please reply on the blog and ill give my details.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Sir, are a brilliant man.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assumptions for cooking method & temperature are?

8:30 AM  
Blogger Alistair Jones said...

@martinb: Cooking time assumes 900W microwave oven.

5:42 AM  
Blogger Alistair Jones said...

@bob hornby: Afraid we are a potato specialist. How about a potato milkshake?

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Clare Barker said...

Hey Alistair. I realise I'm coming to the potato-weighing party terribly late, but wanted to test it out... So I have 2 potatoes (granted, they've been in the fridge for 3 weeks), a Dell Latitude D420, a set of Salter scales and a credit card. My findings are that the weights given by hbimp are about 20% over the actual weights. Maybe my potatoes have dehydrated in the fridge? I wonder if potato age should be considered as an additional dimension in the calculation...?

4:23 AM  
Blogger Alistair Jones said...

Hi Clare, thanks very much for trying it out, and for reporting your experiences. People with both a computer and kitchen scales are less common than you might think. Anyway, 20% sounds less accurate than I would like. What I really need to do is implement a more sophisticated calibration system whereby people with similar facilities to your own can submit verified weighings (possibly accompanied by extra information such as potato variety, age and storage history). With a sensible number of samples we could tune the density constants pretty well.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

Who cooks potatoes in the microwave? You should add cooking time in an oven!

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to mention that there is a difference between a cal and a Cal. My potato that fits in my hand is 282kCal, which is the same as 282Mcal, or 282,000,000 cal. Enough to feed a 600kg (1320lb) beef steer for about 2 weeks, while gaining 1.8kg of mass per day. Or not.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My credit card is really small, but my screen is really large and I love the zoom out function. My potato is 7 and a quarter million tonnes. As Zeddemore might say, that's a big potato.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg this site is so amazing!11!!!!!11!!! so useful

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg this site is so amazing!11!!!!!11!!! so useful

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

best site ever!

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This also works for eggs and kittens.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Bailey said...

can you do other vegetables?

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Mordecai Lattimer said...

Thank you so much I burned my last few potatoes and this site really helped me decide how to cook it just right. P.S. If I were measuring a dead rat, would this still work?

10:41 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How about a computer vision approach, where you hold up both a credit card and a potato to the webcam and the machine figures it out? :D

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The website I never knew I needed. You, Sir, are a genius of the highest order. Or a madman. Jury's out.

I do feel let down by the lack of performance differences between potato varieties here, however and hope you may consider this going forwards. Keep up the good work, that man!

5:43 AM  

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