Ian Charnas got a question stuck in his head. Is it possible to perfectly split an Oreo cookie by twisting it? That seems simple enough. we’ve all tried it at some point, gripping the two cookie halves in each hand and twisting to get at the creamy goodness. It never quite splits evenly does it?
As it turns out, this problem is more widespread than you might think. Actually, it turns out that this is a complex math problem studied by scientists! Apparently splitting an Oreo in half evenly is impossible.
Saying something is impossible is a sure way to get makers interested in tinkering, so Ian set out to figure out how he could make this happen. He tried heating them up, cooling them down, putting them in a vacuum chamber, building splitting machines, and all sorts of other things such as building a tiny waterjet cutter!
Ultimately, Ian ended up approaching this much like you cut glass. You see when cutting glass, you don’t usually cut all the way through it. You instigate a crack, and then direct the crack in the way you want to go. To do this with the Oreo, he scored it, froze it, then cracked it. This ultimately worked!
Crystal Owens points out that she feels this is cheating. Basically Ian has just shown us that he can cut an Oreo mostly in half, then twist it the rest of the way. You know what? His methods may not stand up to the scientific rigor imposed by MIT (or casual observers even) but it sure was amusing!