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Innovation of the Week: An equation for the perfect pizza

A large pepperoni pizza (from Papa Gino’s).The Boston Globe

What is it? A thermodynamic equation for the perfect pizza

Innovators Two physicists and a food anthropologist

What were they thinking? Two physicists (Andrey Varlamov of the Institute of Superconductors, Oxides and Other Innovative Materials and Devices in Rome and Andreas Glatz of Northern Illinois University) and a food anthropologist (Sergio Grasso) were taken by the brick-oven pizzas they ate while working together in Rome — so much so that they developed a formula for at-home replication of the cheesy morsels.

Did it work? The ideal brick-oven Margherita pizza, the researchers determined, is cooked at 625 degrees Fahrenheit for precisely two minutes. But a home-cooked pie usually sits on a tray or cooking rack made of metal, which conducts heat more powerfully than brick. The researchers ran a series of equations balancing heat capacity and mass density. Bottom line, according to their paper “The Physics of Baking Good Pizza”: Set your oven at 450 degrees and bake for 170 seconds.