How many Swedes can have a piece of the cake before splitting an atom?

When you pass on the last pieces of the cake in Sweden, people tend to not dare to take the very last piece. Instead they take half of it. This puts the next guy in an awkward situation, (s)he has to take half of the half, etc. Continuing this way, we will eventually get down to the atom levels.

Even though the cake might be a bit dull towards the end, I agree, but nevertheless the last guy might want to taste that delicious carbon atom or so. I am sure that this guy tried to something similar.

Splitting the atom though, might give some side effects and the whole party that originally started with a nice cake, ends with a bang… At least a good way to get rid of your guests and you do not have to endure those hours of people talking about the weather and staring at their wrist watches or playing wordfeud.

Anyways, so: how many guests can you invite to your cake party?

The splitting sequence

Let us assume we have done a delicious sponge cake. Probably flavoured with vanilla and lemon. A typical size of a cake is about 2 litres. (This is probably where someone would say that it would probably be too small… but let’s assume we talk about a nerdy engineer here who just moved out and no mother that kindly bakes for him.)

The size of the carbon atom is approximately 1 x 10^-26 dm^3 (yepp, that’s a unit).

One litre is 1 dm^3 and thus we would fit quite a few carbon atoms in the 2-litre cake. (This is probably where someone would say that it wouldn’t be that dense… but let’s assume we talk about a nerdy engineer here who just moved out and no mother that tells him how much baking soda to use).

So with 2 x 10^26 atoms in total we have the first guy geting 1 x 10^26 delicious atoms, next one gets 0.5 x 10^26, third one a meager 0.25 x 10^26, etc. [Edit, thanks Dilip]. Person number N will get A(N) = (2 x 10^26) / (2^N) atoms, which means that when for A(N) = 1, we can solve N to be log2( 2 x 10^26 ) = 87.

So, concludingly, we cannot have more than 87 people sharing e.g. a wedding cake in Sweden.

Note that in Germany (and England?) they tend to count the number of guests and share the cake accordingly. Everyone gets one piece each of equal size. This means that they could invite 2 x 10^26 people to their parties… I live in the wrong country. Sob.

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7 thoughts on “How many Swedes can have a piece of the cake before splitting an atom?

    • Ah, yes, you’re right. Corrected the typo. Still, though, we cannot server more than 87 😦 – hope you are fewer than that in your design team.

  1. Pingback: Another bound on power consumption in DACs | Mixed-Signal Comments

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