> 
> <snip>
> > ... I worked with PHD math major who walked around with a coffee mug
> > most of the time sharing his paradoxes of math algorithms 
> and equating
> them
> > to real world applications.   He once told me the boring 
> mathematical
> theory
> > how to stack oranges in the most efficient manner.  Yes there was a
> formula
> > to it. There was also the stock boy with a 6th grade 
> education working in
> > the produce section of a grocery store who already knew 
> without  a proof
> > that the most efficient method was to stack them side by 
> side and  build
> the
> > orange pyramid in the isle.
> 
> My understanding is that mathematicians have had very strong 
> suspicions, and
> for some time, that the "pyramid" pattern is the most 
> efficient possible for
> stacking spheres (i.e. in terms of minimising the unoccupied 
> volume between
> adjacent spheres). The rub, however, is to actually prove 
> that (which I
> gather *has* now occurred, but only within the last five or so years).
> 

Note that the efficiency of the stacking is not necessarily what the grocery
boy was aiming for. The grocery boy would no doubt be aiming for optimum
stability of the stack, not optimum efficiency of the stack. The fact that
in this instance the most stable stacking method is also the most efficient
in terms of space is neither here nor there to either problem.

Cheers,
MvdW

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