Science and Society

Brief interlude: spoon

So, because I realise I have been remiss in posting over the last few days*.


And also because I’m currently writing something somewhat more complex:  I bring you sciencey spoon-related humour.

A word of introduction.  Some time ago, in a country fairly far away, the BBC decided to implement a terrestrial version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: h2g2.  And they invited applications from all peoples, whether Earthian or not**.

It’s an absolutely fantastic way to spend an aeon or so, as entries have mounted over the years.  One of my favourites, however, was discovered a decade ago, and deals with the subject of spoons***.

What has this to do with science?, rumble readers.  Well, this is what happens when someone who is familiar with these remarkable implements, and also has a science background of some sort, explains the concept.  They are not, it would appear, quite as self-explanatory as us human beans would think.

Here, to whet your appetite, is the first bit.


A spoon is a hand tool used for transporting food to the mouth. For convenience, in this Entry, the material to be transported will be called the stuff.

The bowl is a structure designed to provide a local area of reduced gravitational potential, surrounded by a closed loop of greater gravitational potential. If used in a gravitational field the bowl thus constrains the content to remain within it unless the user imposes a force on the content such as to produce an acceleration large enough to overcome the gravity well. Increasing the potential difference between the bottom and sides of the bowl (by deepening the bowl) allows the user to accelerate the spoon more rapidly in a direction perpendicular to the applied field without spillage. This modification of the bowl (as well as a change in bowl/handle relationship, and often in the size of the bowl) can be seen in a related specialised tool, the ladle.


A spoon is made up of two parts, the bowl and the handle.

The handle is designed to allow the user to support and move the bowl in comfort, and so is usually reasonably rounded and of a size which is easily held in the hand. Some spoons have their bowl and handle made out of the same material, eg wood or metal. Many use different materials, as the differing desired characteristics of bowl and handle can often be best met by two different materials.

The rest, in which methods of use are covered, can be found here.

For other h2g2-related silliness, I present to you The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Daleks


And because I know people will trawl through this - what are your favourite h2g2 entries?


* It’s the recurrent insomnia makin’ me braindead.  Honest.

** I have no demographic data as to this split.  My apologies.

*** No, not spoons as in the spoon from that movie. Although the movement of spoons is indeed mentioned.