Is Kansas flatter than a pancake?

Scientists at Arizona State and Texas State have focused considerable research energy on one of the great questions of our time: Is Kansas really flatter than a pancake? Of course, they used the standard measure of flatness: The length of an ellipse’s semi-major axis A is compared with its measured semi-minor axis B using the formula for flattening, f = (a – b) / a.  Of course.

Using a standard IHOP pancake, the team calculated a flatness of .957, which is flat, but shy of perfect flatness (which would be a 1.0). Applying the same formula to the topography of Kansas, the scientists came up with .9997, which is much much flatter than a pancake. So it's not really right to drive through Kansas and say, "This place is as flat as a pancake." However, if you ever went to IHOP and got a particularly flat pancake, you would be OK in saying, "This pancake is a flat as Kansas."

Thank university scientists by Mark Fonstad, William Pugatch, and Brandon Vogt, for solving this vexing question.

3 comments:

  1. Kansas is nowhere near as flat as Florida.

    Difference between highest and lowest points
    KS: 3360 ft.
    FL: 345 ft.

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  2. Quite true, David. But Kansas (especially west Kansas) seems flatter to travelers because it has fewer trees, buildings, and dancing cartoon characters to break up the monotony!

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  3. David, flattness has nothing to do with elevation. Northern Florida is much more 'hilly' meaning many more changes in elevation, than anywhere I've ever been in Kansas

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