## Friday, April 10, 2009

### Forks and Torques

Today is a good day I think to rationalize trivial personal quirks.

For example, I have the quirk that I hold forks and spoons in an improper way.

If you're holding a spoon or a fork alone, you're supposed to hold it with your thumb and index finger as it rests on the side of your middle finger. This really needs a picture, but unfortunately, the only one I could find is copyrighted, and I don't feel comfortable taking it. Hopefully, the lack of pictures on the net means that most people simply don't care about etiquette

Out of habit, I hold forks differently, and I could just leave it at that. But today let's take option B: indisputable proof that my way is superior.

The problem with the "proper" way to hold a fork is that it's inefficient. How are you supposed to balance the torque on the fork? If you got food on one end of the fork, it applies an off-center force. Thus, it applies a torque. Without an equal and opposite torque, the fork will simply tip over, resulting in an etiquette catastrophe. Imagine all the gasps which will be pointed in your general direction.

The best way to apply an opposite torque is to apply a downward force on the handle of the fork. The amount of torque is proportional to the distance from the center of mass times the strength of the force. Thus, if you hold it the "proper" way, only holding the fork near the center, you must apply a much stronger downward force. This makes the fork seem much heavier than it really is.

Put in plainer words, what's that long handle for if you're not going to use it for extra leverage?

I suppose if this really becomes a problem, you're probably putting way more food on your fork than is polite...

How do I hold it, you ask? Erm... I do it in a way that gives me more leverage. Do not question this!

Next time, I will discuss why it is always better to break your egg on the larger end.

DeralterChemiker said...

It has a hollow space inside that end.

Secret SquÃ¯rrel said...

I like the range of topics you present.

I rarely use a fork as a shovel, finding that a spoon usually does a better job. However, on those rare occasions, I'm quite content to hold it in my fist like a toddler.

I don't know what your superior grip is but generally I hold a fork like a knife, with an overhand grip, pivoting on my curled middle finger with my index providing thrust (to puncture food) on the load side of the fulcrum. My palm effectively acts as the counterbalancing force opposite the impaled load by preventing the end of the handle from rotating upwards.