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On a quest for measuring cup accuracy

Who knew the world needed a better measuring cup? Joshua Redstone, for one. The Cambridge PhD and former software engineer for Google and Facebook also happens to love cooking and experimenting with recipes, and four years ago while cooking in his kitchen, he came to the startling realization that standard measuring cups are not 100 percent accurate because of their shape. It has to do with the ratio of surface area to volume, and the smaller amount one tries to measure using traditional round or conical measuring cups, the less accurate that ratio becomes. “And recipes are all about ratios,” Redstone maintains.

Intrigued by the math, Redstone took a deep dive into designing the first measuring cup that could measure small amounts as accurately as large amounts. It took him about four months to solve the mathematical question at the heart of the design, another 12 months to come up with the first prototype, then two more years to develop the manufacturing friendly design he calls Euclid.

Named after the founding father of geometry, Euclid has a mathematically optimal shape with one flat side connecting to a tapered curve that preserves a constant ratio of surface area to volume at every measurement line — the equation for its mathematical essence is right on the side.


Redstone believes Euclid will be especially appealing to home chefs looking for consistency in trying new recipes as well as “. . . tech nerds who love that an engineer applied a bunch of math to a kitchen tool that no one’s thought about in hundreds of years.” He and his partners in the project are now ready to manufacture Euclid in the United States out of Tritan plastic, but it’s a risky business because of the complexity of manufacturing to pinpoint accuracy, both in the injection mold of the cup as well as the printing of the line markings. They just recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production. The patent of the design extends to any device that measures volume, including laboratory equipment, bar jiggers, even rain gauges.

“I’m passionate about math in the real world,” Redstone says. “I have lots of ideas around ways math can make the world a better place, [thinking] about design in a more principled way. It’s rare you see mathematical beauty in everyday objects.”

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