Newton's Law of Cooling Applied to Jack's Pizza

Three MSUM students, Matthew Davis (mathematics, computer science), Max Sheridan (mathematics, computer science) and Luke Meyer (mathematics education), have been hard at work on a research project that’s sure to pique the interest of college students everywhere. Combining their love for pizza and their mathematical knowledge, this trio has applied Newton’s Law of Cooling to answer a burning question: what is the perfect temperature to enjoy a slice of Jack’s pizza? They presented their findings at the Student Academic conference, this Tuesday, where they uncovered that perfect temperature, not too cold, not too hot, but “just right”.

Max, Matt and Luke wanted to explore a topic that was both intriguing and appealing to most college students, so they turned to Newton’s Law of Cooling and pizza. Newton’s Law states that the rate at which an object cools is directly proportional to the difference between its temperature and the temperature of the surrounding environment. By creating a differential equation based on this principle, the team was able to calculate how the temperature of a freshly baked pizza changes over time.

To conduct their experiment, they cooked a Jack’s pizza according to the packaging instructions in Luke’s apartment which was approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They inserted a meat thermometer into the pizza and measured its temperature each minute, using this data to calculate their constants needed to plug into their differential equation. They were then able to use this equation to determine the ideal temperature to enjoy a slice of Jack’s pizza.

“If you cook the pizza, following the directions exactly, then you pull it out of the oven, you can plug in any number of minutes into our equation, and it will tell you what the temperature of the pizza should be,” says Matt.

The trio thoroughly enjoyed collaborating on this red sauce research and found the experiment to be relatively straightforward. They expressed their appreciation for the math and education programs offered at MSUM and complimented all their professors for their abundant support. They singled out their professor and mentor, Ashok Aryal, for his invaluable support and guidance.

According to Matt, “He’s fantastic and a great lecturer because he makes the material interesting. He takes a ton of time to help students and you can tell he wants his students to succeed.”

Max added “One of his focuses is taking the burden off students, he always states that the burden is ours to share.”

Matt has previously presented at the Student Academic Conference and is excited to present again this year. Although Max and Luke have never presented before, they are eager to share their experiment and develop their communication skills through this opportunity.

According to Luke, “The Student Academic Conference is good practice for research, because it’s prevalent in most professions.”

Max credits the conference for helping him develop a deeper understanding of how to form a comprehensive research project, including the importance of presenting all the crucial information. He adds that the experience has kept him motivated to continue learning and pursuing new projects.

Despite feeling some anxiety, the team is enthusiastic about presenting. They all concur that overcoming presentation anxiety early on will benefit them in the long run. 

“It gets you out of your comfort zone, and the earlier the better,” Matt states.

Matt graduates this May and will continue to work remotely for DigiKey Electronics. Luke is excited to begin student teaching next fall and intends to search for a teaching position within Minnesota afterward. Despite being a few years away from graduation, Max is determined to continue his education and explore career opportunities that foster creativity and encourage innovation.

We all owe a slice of gratitude to Matt, Max and Luke for their mouth-watering math skills. According to their research, the perfect temperature to eat a slice of Jack’s pizza is between 145°F to 165°F. To ensure maximum deliciousness, be sure to eat it between 6 minutes 7 seconds and 9 minutes 52 seconds after taking it out of the oven!

Make Sure Your Story Is Heard

Let us know how your life has been changed by being a Dragon: tell us your MSU Moorhead story today!

Send Us Your Story

More Stories from Dragons

View All Dragon Stories