Len Fisher

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Len Fisher
Len Fisher
Len Fisher presenting a paper on mummia at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery in 2012
Leonard Ross Fisher

1942 (age 81–82)
AwardsOrder of Australia, Ig Nobel Prize
Academic background
EducationUniversity of Sydney, University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, University of Bristol
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of Bristol
WebsiteOfficial website

Leonard Ross Fisher OAM (born 1942) is an Australian physicist, and visiting senior research fellow at the University of Bristol, UK. He is known for his research into everyday topics, such as the optimal way to dunk a biscuit, and the optimum use of cheese in a cheese sandwich.


Fisher received a BSc in chemistry and pure mathematics,[1][better source needed] and an MSc in radiation chemistry from the University of Sydney.[2] He has a PhD in physics of surfaces from the University of New South Wales.[3]


Fisher has been a visiting senior research fellow in the school of physics at the University of Bristol since 1992.[4][5]


In 1998, Fisher published a study on the optimal way to dunk a biscuit. The study concluded that 10 times more flavour is released from a biscuit if it has first been dunked in a hot drink. This research was funded by McVities.[6][7]

In 2000, Fisher studied the absorption of gravy by a roast dinner. He found that 700,000 litres of gravy is wasted every week in the UK when it is poured on food and not consumed.[8] He also calculated a gravy absorption index, and published a set of rules to maximise the absorption of gravy by food.[9] Following on from this work, in 2001, he researched the best bread to absorb gravy with, concluding that ciabatta soaks up the most.[10]

In 2003, Fisher produced a report for the British Cheese Board, titled "Optimum Use of Cheese in a Cheese Sandwich".[11] He found that the optimum thickness for the filling in a cheese sandwich is dependent on the type of cheese used, and that the sandwich should be made with a light spread of butter or margarine to enhance the flavour of the cheese.[12] This research has drawn criticism for being 'frivolous'.[13]


  • How to Dunk a Doughnut: The Science of Everyday Life (2002)
  • Weighing the Soul: The Evolution of Scientific Ideas (2004)
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life (2008)[14]
  • The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life (2009)[15]
  • Crashes, Crises and Calamities: How We Can Use Science to Read the Early-Warning Signs (2011)


Fisher was presented with the Ig Nobel Prize for Physics, in 1999, for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit.[16]

In 2004, Fisher was named Science Writer of the Year by the American Institute of Physics for How to Dunk a Doughnut: The Science of Everyday Life.[17]

In 2019, Fisher was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his contribution to science.[18][19]


  1. ^ "Dr Len Fisher: About Me". Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  2. ^ Fisher, Leonard Ross (1965). The dosimetry of a 61pm 147β-radiation source (M.Sc. Thesis). University of Sydney. OCLC 221182218.
  3. ^ Fisher, Leonard Ross (1980). Properties of curved liquid/vapour interfaces (Ph.D Thesis). University of New South Wales. doi:10.26190/unsworks/7315. hdl:1959.4/61664.
  4. ^ "The Science Show". Radio Australia. 1 February 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Len Fisher". ORCID. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  6. ^ "No more flunking on dunking". BBC News. 25 November 1998. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  7. ^ Fisher, L. (1999). "Physics takes the biscuit". Nature. 397 (6719): 469. Bibcode:1999Natur.397..469F. doi:10.1038/17203. S2CID 4404966.
  8. ^ "Gallons of gravy wasted". BBC News. 30 November 2000. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Physics bids to halt gravy drain". The Guardian. 30 November 2000. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Gravy boffin uses his loaf". BBC News. 27 December 2001. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  11. ^ Len Fisher (24 September 2003). Optimum Use of Cheese in a Cheese Sandwich (Report). British Cheese Board. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Scientists 'perfect' cheese sandwich". BBC News. 7 October 2003. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  13. ^ Denise Winterman (24 September 2009). "Is there any point to 'frivolous' academic research?". BBC News. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  14. ^ Simona Weinglass (11 September 2017). "Is Israel becoming a mafia state?". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  15. ^ George Scialabba (29 November 2009). "Why we do the things we do". Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Brits take the biscuit". BBC News. 4 October 1999. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  17. ^ Jennie Curtin (26 January 2019). "Communicating science: Dr Len Fisher's grand plan". Blue Mountain Gazette. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Dr Leonard Ross Fisher". It's An Honour. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  19. ^ John Baker (16 February 2019). "Scientist given Australia medal". Wiltshire Times. Retrieved 19 March 2021.