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.


  1. Kansas is nowhere near as flat as Florida.

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

  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!

  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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