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Thu Aug 16, 2018, 08:48 AM

MIT scientists crack the case of breaking spaghetti in two

I know; this is the sort of thing that really ought to be in LBN.

IT'S ALL IN THE TWIST... —

MIT scientists crack the case of breaking spaghetti in two

How not to shatter spaghetti into half a dozen little pieces.

JENNIFER OUELLETTE - 8/15/2018, 4:10 PM

Pasta purists insist on plonking dry spaghetti into the boiling pot whole, but should you rebel against convention and try to break the strands in half, you'll probably end up with a mess of scattered pieces. ... Now, two MIT mathematicians have figured out the trick to breaking spaghetti strands neatly in two: add a little twist as you bend. They outlined their findings in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This isn't the first time scientists have been fascinated by the physics of breaking spaghetti. The ever-curious Richard Feynman famously spent hours in his kitchen one night in a failed attempt to successfully break spaghetti strands neatly in half. It should have worked, he reasoned, because the strand snaps when the curvature becomes too great, and once that happens, the energy release should reduce the curvature. The spaghetti should straighten out and not break any further. But no matter how hard he tried, the spaghetti would break in three or more pieces.

It wasn't until 2006 that a pair of French physicists successfully explained the dynamics at work and solved the mystery. They found that, counterintuitively, a spaghetti strand produces a "kick back" traveling wave as it breaks. This wave temporarily increases the curvature in other sections, leading to many more breaks. (You can see slow motion videos of shattering spaghetti here if that's your jam.) Basile Audoly and Sébastien Neukirch won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for their insight.

Then, in 2015, two MIT students in search of a final project set out to discover if there was any way to control those natural forces to achieve a neat, clean break. Ronald Heisser (now a graduate student at Cornell) and Edgar Gridello found that twisting the spaghetti and bringing the ends together would cause the strand to break in half—but it required a pretty strong twisting motion. ... Intrigued, Heisser built a special spaghetti-snapping device with a clamp on either end to hold the strand. One clamp would rotate the strand while the other clamp would slide toward its partner until the strand broke. He and MIT grad student Vishal Patil then subjected hundreds of spaghetti strands to the test, recording how each one broke.



The MIT apparatus in action.
Courtesy of the researchers
....

Warning: the following video may be too intense for some members of our viewing audience. Viewer discretion is advised.

How bent spaghetti break

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Reply MIT scientists crack the case of breaking spaghetti in two (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Aug 2018 OP
unblock Aug 2018 #1
unblock Aug 2018 #2
LakeSuperiorView Aug 2018 #3
PoindexterOglethorpe Aug 2018 #4
Igel Aug 2018 #6
pscot Aug 2018 #5
PoindexterOglethorpe Aug 2018 #7

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 09:25 AM

1. sometimes physicists do some pretty fusilli experiments.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 09:26 AM

2. it breaks when the curvature goes pasta point of no return.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 09:43 AM

3. It's getting to the time of year that warm pasta dishes are perfect Farfalle

 

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 10:56 AM

4. I always break the spaghetti in half before I put it in the pot.

I hold the strands directly over the pot, and maybe I twist without realize, because I don't have a problem with little pieces breaking off.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 09:22 PM

6. I know I twist them as I bend them.

Makes it easier. And fewer pieces go flying in odd directions.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Aug 16, 2018, 02:51 PM

5. Break before opening

Bend the package against the edge of the counter until it breaks. Slit the end with a knife e voila! no muss no fuss.

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Response to pscot (Reply #5)

Fri Aug 17, 2018, 08:36 AM

7. That is entirely too sensible!

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