Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Neutronium As A Cooking Ingredient

Cream cakes which really do make you gain weight
  [vote for,

The other day I heard someone say "I only have to walk past a cream cake shop to gain weight" and it was borne in upon me that this could actually be so provided that said confectionaries were denser than the kind of matter which we encounter in everyday life. Cream cakes do of course exert a minor gravitational pull on passers by, but I imagine the biggest culprits in the high street in this respect are jewellers. The density of a cream cake which could actually cause weight increase by proximity would have to be far above the density of even the platinum metals by several orders of magnitude. But how many?

I'm going to assume that someone has a mass of 200 kilos and that the increase in weight is one gramme, so I'm talking about of 0.0005%, and I'll make that at a distance of one metre. Now, the Earth is 6738 km in radius in some places, so someone would be 6 738 000 times closer, whose square root is about 2500. Since the increase in weight is far smaller, that means one 500 millionth the mass of the planet in neutronium would be required in a cream cake to generate this effect. This is a mere 12 billion tonnes.

Various questions now arise in my mind.

- In order for the cake not to sink to the centre of the Earth, it will need to be levitated in some way. I suggest it be filled with iron filings and suspended in a powerful magnetic field, and that the rest of the planet's infrastructure be devoted to generating enough energy to support this arrangement.

- The rest of the cake is going to have to be really light so as not to have it collapse onto the chunks of neutronium inside it, so it'll need to be made of a sort of aerogel/meringue thing. Not sure if it can actually include cream though. Maybe whipped cream containing hydrogen.

- The individual chunks of neutronium are going to have to be contained somehow, unless we are to be happy with the idea of the whole thing exploding after less than a nanosecond and probably destroying the planet. However, this needn't be a bad thing because since the energy required to levitate such a cake is considerable, it probably can't be maintained for very long.

- The cream cake will have to be situated underneath the passers by whose weight is to be sufficiently increased in order that gravitational pull is in the right direction. Otherwise the weight might be unaltered or decreased by the positioning of the cake.

So how can this be achieved? I suggest religion. In ancient and mediaeval times, the construction of pyramids, ziggurats and cathedrals involved a huge concentration of economic activity on the sole purpose of creating a beautiful monument to a possibly non- existent deity, or maybe the Pharaoh. So, found a new evangelical religion whose focus is to create a single cream cake with sufficient gravitational pull to increase the weight of someone walking over the subterranean patisserie noticeably. This religion will convert the entire population of the world to this end, and huge resources will be expended on creating and storing the energy required to create and maintain the cake. Then, a single vastly heavy person will be bred and raised to pass the cake, and in a final apocalyptic ceremony, that person will be wheeled over the cake on a set of highly accurate scales and their weight will be briefly acknowledged by the whole of humanity to have increased by a gramme (I realise the appropriate unit is the millinewton) before the whole assemblage gives out and destroys the planet.

nineteenthly, Jan 12 2014


       I've never really grasped why neutrons hang out with protons in the first place. It's not as if they're attracted to each other by charge.
pertinax, Jan 12 2014

       //someone would be 6 738 000 times closer, whose square root is about 2500//   

       You need the square, not the square root. Or, calculating more directly,   

       m1 = r² F/(G m2)
= 1m² * 0.0098N/(6.67E-11N(m/kg)² * 200kg),
about 730 tonnes.
spidermother, Jan 12 2014

       [pertinax], protons have electric charges that repel each other. There happens to exist a different force (than the electric/magnetic force) called "the strong nuclear force" --it is stronger than the electric/magnetic force.   

       Neutrons and protons can experience that strong force --but protons basically DON'T experience it in-between each other only. So, if an atomic nucleus contains neutrons as well as protons, the strong force begins to act such that the electric repulsion of the protons, toward each other, is overcome, so they end up staying together in the nucleus.
Vernon, Jan 12 2014

       OK thanks, [spidermother], I'd just woken up and not had my coffee when I typed this.
nineteenthly, Jan 12 2014

       Would it not, perhaps, be easier to ask someone to walk past the cake shop at the moment the moon is on the opposite side of the earth? They ought then to be measurably heavier than they are when the moon is directly overhead.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 12 2014

       The ocean weighs more at high tide, m'lud, not less, reason being there's more of it in one spot. Certainly the moon seems to draw out the crazies as it passes overhead, but the notion that it would temporarily increase the local population seems suspect at the very least.
Alterother, Jan 12 2014

       I think you're wrong.   

       Consider the earth and the moon. Put one person on the surface of the earth, directly underneath the moon.   

       Now put another person on the surface of the earth, directly opposite the moon.   

       The person under the moon experiences a small pull by the moon (headwards) in opposition to the much larger pull of the earth (footwards).   

       For the person on the far side of the earth, the pull of the moon (now a little less, as they are a few thousand miles further from it) _adds_ to the pull of the earth.   

       This, basically, is why there are tides.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 12 2014

       Tides are caused by window-gazers at antipodal confectionary shops?
Alterother, Jan 12 2014

       Basically, and in the sense of "not really", yes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 12 2014

       Make the cake out of moon! I mean make the moon into a cake!
pocmloc, Jan 12 2014

       I don't think you're taking this seriously, [pocmloc].
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 12 2014

       The question isn't what he's taking seriously - it's just what he's taking.
lurch, Jan 12 2014

       A cheesecake!
pocmloc, Jan 12 2014

       You could halve your cake and eat it two...   


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