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# The "Goldilocks" problem.....

Alan Wanwierd
Ranch Hand
Posts: 624
I'm troubled.... even my rudimentary knowledge of thermodynamics is enough to clearly indicate that something strange is going on.

(I assume you are familiar with the basic story - but heres a refresher of the bit that troubles me):

"... but the big bowl of porridge was too hot...
... but the medium sized bowl of porridge was too cold..
...and the small bowl of porridge was just right so she ate it all up..."

Now lets assume that all the porridge was cooked together in one pot (as it usualy is) and served at the same time. It would have been at the same temperature when served (which was too hot - hence the bears deciding to take a walk whilst it cooled).

Now it wont surprise anyone to hear that the largest bowl retained its heat the best what with it having the smallest surface area/volume ratio, but how could the medium sized bowl cool down the quickest?

There are 2 likely explanations:
1) The bowls were made of different materials - with the medium bowl conducting heat away from the porridge more efficiently than the small bowl (perhaps the small bowl was a traditional wooden bowl but the medium one was some new-fangled hyperconducting metal bowl? )

2) The medium bowl was in fact broken a long time ago and mummy bear had resorted to serving her porridge on a flat dinner plate (thus dramatically increasing the exposed surface area and cooling the porridge very quickly).

Either way - the illustrations in the book I'm reading my daughter are extremely misleading - they clearly show three similarly shaped wooden bowls that appear to vary only in dimensions!! How can we as parents be expected to teach out kids sound principles of physics when we bombard them with confusing mis-information the whole time?

..or have I missed something - is there a perfectly simple explanation?

John Smith
Ranch Hand
Posts: 2937
..or have I missed something - is there a perfectly simple explanation?

In the Russian version of this story, the girl tries the meal from all three bowls, but there is no reference to the temperature of the food. The story simply goes to say that the girl likes the food in the smallest bowl, using the smallest spoon, which makes perfect sense.

So the simple explanation that you are looking for is probably the flawed translation. Now, I don't know the author of the original story, or his/her nationality, so it would be nice to look up the original text. Anyone with a link?

Warren Dew
blacksmith
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1332
2
I think mommy bear liked her porridge cold, and ladled it out before the pot got too hot.

What I want to know is how the bears held the spoons in their paws.

Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff
Posts: 18671
Now lets assume that all the porridge was cooked together in one pot (as it usualy is)

OK.

and served at the same time.

Ah, there's the problem.

Small bears have big appetites - they're growing, after all. The small bear probably finished its tiny bowl early, and got a second helping. The central cooking pot was probably pretty big (even after first servings, it may have been bigger than the medium-sized bowl). So it probably retained its heat pretty well. It wouldn't really be unreasonable to find that the small bowl had more heat than the largest bowl, really - if the large bowl was still on its first serving, while the small bowl was on its second.
[ October 07, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

Nick George
Ranch Hand
Posts: 815
maybe you should ask Bear. I think he was there.

Maxim Katcharov
Ranch Hand
Posts: 113
They could have been filled at different times.

Consider this: Father bear is alone in the kitchen. He serves mother bear the first part. He takes a spoonful, burns his tongue. He runs outside to submerge his mouth in some sort of watery area.

Meanwhile, the pot of porridge is still simmering, and is becoming overly hot due to the reduced volume. He starts home, and notices the nice day outside. He gets home, notices the even hotter porridge. He fills the small bowl, and then dumps the rest into his.

Enters living room, suggests a walk to raise the appetite so that the porridge is normal, and noone is the wiser. Except mother bear, whose porridge would be too cold, but he's a bear so he's not that smart.

Joyce Lee
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1392

Anthony Villanueva
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1055
Probably a good idea to take in the Big Bad Wolf for questioning too. He's been causing trouble in the neighborhood, breaking and entering, cross-dressing and scaring little girls. Been known to huff and puff too.

Joe King
Ranch Hand
Posts: 820
Is it me or does just about every fairy tail or traditional kids story involve large amounts of blood, gore, wild animals and generally unacceptable illegal or immoral behaviour? I once said this to my girlfriend who, being a nanny, is as close to a professional fairly/bed time story teller as you can get and she didn't believe me. We then spent the next hour going through every story she could think of and all of them had some kind of possibly immoral element to them. Examples include the trauma of Humpty Dumpty dying from a fall along with the sadistic pointless military manoeuvres of the Duke of York, Little Red Riding Hood being allowed by her parents to enter a wolf-infested wood alone, Jack and Jill receiving serious injuries because semi-child labour retrieving water (probably because of a deficient water distribution service).

I'm not saying this is a bad thing, as I think kids generally enjoy stories better the more disgusting they are (and if it gets kids reading rather than playing computer games I'm all for it), but how long before some ultra Politically Correct moaner starts to say that these stories should be banned?

Can anyone think of a traditional nursery rhyme, bed time story, or similar tale that does not have some kind of bad message?

Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand
Posts: 5093
in the Dutch version the large bowl is too bland, the medium bowl too salty (or the other way around, it's been decades) and the smallest is just right.
So one bear doesn't like salt, another likes a lot of salt, and the third likes a reasonable amount.

Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal
Posts: 65278
95
WHO THE %\$&#'s BEEN IN MY PORRIDGE!!!

Joyce Lee
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1392
Originally posted by Bear Bibeault:
WHO THE %\$&#'s BEEN IN MY PORRIDGE!!!

"Dad, I read the story "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". It's Goldilocks!" said the baby bear.

Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand
Posts: 13974
"Humpty Dumpty" and "The Duke of York" are actually based on real events.

Joyce Lee
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1392
The moral of this story is:
* Never leave your food on the table when you're not around.
* Use daddy bear bowl (a new brand) to keep your porridge warm.

Alan Wanwierd
Ranch Hand
Posts: 624
Originally posted by Joe King:
... Jack and Jill receiving serious injuries because semi-child labour retrieving water (probably because of a deficient water distribution service).
...

Actually - since we're on the subject, what idiot engineer decided to put a water source at the TOP of a hill?... I admit (once again) I'm no expert engineer, but I would have thought a well would be alot easier to drill at the bottom of the hill where presumably the water table is a lot closer to the surface?!
[ October 08, 2004: Message edited by: Adrian Wallace ]