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You know you do it. Your mom’s done it. Your dad, too. Everyone’s done it at least once. Some people like to pretend they never have. But sometimes, you just can’t help yourself.

Everyone has ruined a perfectly good group picture by blinking.

What to do? Put your math skills to use, my good friend.

Thankfully, Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization have already done the heavy lifting. Their research calculates the number of photos you must take to virtually guarantee that nobody in a group will have their eyes closed.

Here’s their rule of thumb: For groups smaller than 20, divide the number of people by three if there’s good light and two if the light’s bad. That’s how many shots you need to take. See their paper for the nitty gritty.

Now if only they’d come up with a formula to eliminate bunny ears

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p.s. These two won a 2006 Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics for this work. The Ig Nobel honors achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think.

— Nicole Ramsey, PJ Intern