Thanks everyone for your pitches! We received over 200 stories and over 100 artists, and selecting stories was incredibly difficult. We’re thrilled at the enthusiastic response we’ve had so far, and we’re excited to share our list of contributors! The selected stories surprised us, moved us, or were just plain sweet and fun. We hope that you will be as excited as we are by the varied tones, the range of artistic styles, and the diverse voices in the collection.

  1. The Alligator at the End of the World by H. Pueyo & Dante L.
  2. Aswang by Lea Shepherd & Laura Neubert 
  3. Bad Hair Day by Cassandra Khaw & C. Ann Gordon
  4. Best Boo by Megan Kearney
  5. Date Night by Allison Bannister & Ronnie Ritchie
  6. Doilies and Demons by Michelle Gruppetta & Fleur Sciortino
  7. The Insect by ZAVKA
  8. Leon’s Return by Zoe Maeve
  9. Light Pollution by Lauren Dawson
  10. Lost and Found by Saffron Aurora
  11. Love and Fury by Aimee Lim & Sam Beck
  12. Low Tide by M. Blankier & Helen Robinson
  13. Miss Monster by Stephanie Cooke & Cara McGee
  14. Moonless Sea by Casandra Grullon     
  15. Newlyweds by Gillian Blekkenhorst
  16. Nine to Five by Rachel Poulson
  17. The Purrrfect Solution by Mandy James
  18. Skin Deep by Elodie Chen
  19. Solid Shadows by Rachel Simon & K. Guillory
  20. Succubus by Xia Gordon
  21. Tinseltown by Allison O'Toole & Emmanuelle Chateauneuf
  22. Ugly Cinderwench and the Very Angry Ghost by Xaviere Daumarie
  23. The Way Home by Lorena Torres Loaiza & Sabaa Bismil
  24. The Wife’s Shadow by Janice Liu
  25. White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant by BC Holmes & Dee Williams
  26. Zira and the Little Fire by Katie Shanahan
Pancake batter holds clue to eye surgery

Scientists at University College London (UCL) have demonstrated how cooking the perfect pancake could improve surgical methods for treating eye conditions such as glaucoma.

According to the researchers, the appearance of pancakes depends on how water escapes the batter mix during the cooking process and this varies with the thickness of the batter. By understanding the physics of the process, the researchers can get an insight into how flexible sheets, similar to those found in human eyes, interact with flowing vapour and liquids.

The study, published in Mathematics TODAY, examined a range of pancakes of differing thicknesses and diameters and discovered the thinner and smaller the pancake, the more evenly the surface cooks. Professor Ian Eames, Co-author of the study and Professor of Fluid Mechanics at UCL Engineering, said, ‘We’ve discovered that the variations in texture and patterns result from differences in how water escapes the batter during cooking and that this is largely dependent on the thickness and spread of the batter.’

To explore how different ratios influence the textures and patterns of pancakes, the scientists made batters with the same amount of flour and egg, but used different amounts of milk. The pancakes were made using the batters in the same pan, at the same heat and without fat. The results were as follows –

Thick batters with a baker’s percentage of 100–120 form pancakes with irregular craters on the bottom surface. Water vapours released during cooking get trapped, unevenly lifting the pancake from the pan. Islands form on the top surface as the pancake isn’t a uniform thickness.

Thinner batters with a baker’s percentage of 175 form pancakes with an even colour on the bottom surface as water vapour is released smoothly from the base as it cooks.

The thinnest batters with a baker’s percentage of 200–225, form pancakes with an even coloured bottom surface, which is dotted with dark spots. Water vapours escape smoothly across the bottom surface and through channels in the batter. It also has a distinctive dark ring around the outer edge where the batter is thinnest.

Dr Yann Bouremel, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said, ‘We found that the physics of pancake cooking is complex, but generally follows one of two things. If the batter spreads easily in the pan, the pancake ends up with a smooth surface pattern and less burning as the vapour flow buffers the heat of the pan. We found a thin pancake can only be created by physically spreading the batter across the pan and in this case, the vapour tends to escape through channels or diffusion.’

Co-author Professor Sir Peng Khaw, Director of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology said, ‘We work on better surgical methods for treating glaucoma, which is a build-up of pressure in eyes caused by fluid. To treat this, surgeons create an escape route for the fluid by carefully cutting the flexible sheets of the sclera. We are working with engineers and mathematicians. This a wonderful example of how the science of everyday activities can help us with the medical treatments of the future.’