Found the solution to half a century of physics puzzles

Spaghetti Snapper

For everyone who has ever broken dry spaghetti into a pot, it has been noticed that while you can easily do it, it quite often shatters in the middle, resulting in a multitude of smaller pieces. Now bend it until it breaks. How many fragments did you make?

On the other hand, if you snap the dry spaghetti in half, you will be left with uneven strands and dozens of tiny splinters flying around the kitchen. If not, you're in very good company.

The phenomenon has puzzled scientists for decades, but they always looked for a theoretical explanation for why the spaghetti noddle refuses to snap in two. They explained that when a strand of spaghetti is bent using even force from both ends, it will break near the center, where it is most curved. By twisting and bending, the stress placed on the object being broken is distributed - weakening the "snapback effect" and allowing the pasta to release energy while it unwinds, thus preventing more fractures.

You would think that scientists have more pressing issues on their mind than how spaghetti breaks, but apparently this issue has been a long-standing one.

The research was not aimed specifically at spaghetti, although pasta did become the prime example as the team tried to address "a well-known problem with direct implications for the fracture behavior of elongated brittle objects". Is it possible to break a stick of dry spaghetti into exactly two pieces? To lend their carbo-rific trials complete precision, lead study author Ronald Heisser (now an engineering graduate student at Cornell University) built a special spaghetti-bending machine, complete with aluminum pincers that gripped each noodle on either end. To prevent bent spaghetti from splintering into a half dozen pieces, the researchers wrote, one end of the pasta first has to be twisted almost 360 degrees. "In any case, this has been a fun interdisciplinary project started and carried out by two brilliant and persistent students - who probably don't want to see, break, or eat spaghetti for a while". Their co-authors are Norbert Stoop, instructor of mathematics at MIT, and Emmanuel Villermaux of Université Aix Marseille.

The spaghetti challenge isn't a recent mystery.

"The secret is that you have to twist it a fair amount", graduate student Vishal Patil from MIT told Gizmodo. "And Ronald wanted to investigate more deeply". They designed a device that can controllably bend and twist spaghetti ends, focusing on two types of spaghetti: Barilla No. 5 and Barilla No. 7, which have slightly different diameters.


But is it really impossible to crack spaghetti in two?

They needed to twist the spaghetti at 270 degrees, before merging the two ends slowly together. The twist essentially weakens the snap-back effect discovered in 2006.

"Once it breaks, you still have a snap-back because the rod wants to be straight", Dunkel explains. The initial break releases a wave of energy that propels other sections of the object to fracture as well. Were you successful? Yes, you'll say, but are you sure? You're likely to have at least three pieces.

"It will be interesting to see whether and how twist could similarly be used to control the fracture dynamics of two-dimensional and three-dimensional materials", added Dunkel. The spaghetti should straighten out and not break any further.

"Linguini is different because it's more like a ribbon", Dunkel says. "The way the model is constructed it applies to perfectly cylindrical rods".

Written by Jennifer Chu, guest contributor, MIT News.

Related News:



Most liked

Google’s own Smart Display will reportedly fuel the Alexa war this year
Citing an industry source, the report stated that Google plans to ship three million units in the first batch of its new device. Google is said to be planning to release a new smart speaker, and it might be looking to the Echo Show for inspiration.

Napoli President Makes Astonishing Ownership Claims About Liverpool And Roma
Roma and Liverpool have been involved in two massive transfer deals over the a year ago with Mo Salah and Alisson heading from the Italian capital to Anfield and that has clearly angered De Laurentiis.

PawSox Begin Steps To Build Stadium In Worcester, Leave Rhode Island
The state has committed $35 million to the effort over two to three years, the Baker administration said in a statement. Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien was a major proponent and did almost everything he could to keep the team in the city.

Nasir Jamshed: Ex-Pakistan opener banned for 10 years over spot-fixing
The ban was announced on Friday by Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) Anti-Corruption Tribunal. He was later slapped with the seven violations of the PCB's anti-corruption code.

The OnePlus 6T will launch on T-Mobile for $550 this fall
The latest iteration of the OnePlus family brings us an all-new design on the outside, and more of what we already love on the ... The OnePlus 6T will be sold by T-Mobile when it launches in October, according to sources speaking to CNET .

Trump Pats Himself On The Back For Yanking Brennan's Security Clearance
He said the only question now is whether the collusion that took place "constituted criminally liable conspiracy". He told the Journal he doesn't trust "many of those people on that list" and thinks they aren't "good people".

The first 'Star Wars: Resistance' trailer is here
Star Wars: Resistance premieres October 7 on Disney Channel, followed by a worldwide release across Disney platforms. Star Wars: Resistance will roll out globally on Disney Channels Worldwide following its stateside premiere.

An MLB Team Turned A Crazy Bases-Loaded Triple Play Tonight
According to SABR's excellent triple-play database, the last time that happened in a game was August 17, 1950* when the St. Louis Browns** turned three against the Cleveland Indians.

Infinity War’s Scarlett Johansson is the Highest-Paid Actress of 2018
Coming in second on the list after Johansson is Angelina Jolie with $28 million - which is reportedly largely due to her upfront pay for Maleficent 2 .

The Royals canceled by E! after four seasons
The cast also included Tom Austen, Jake Maskall, Genevieve Gaunt, Victoria Ekanoye, Max Brown, and Rocky Marshall. Pop has been looking for a second signature series to join its flagship comedy Schitt's Creek .

'Dr BumBum' charged over death of patient after operation
In some cases, the government reportedly subsidizes the procedures. Denis Furtado's Instagram is filled with photos of women's butts. The mother of two died, and Furtado disappeared.

First generic EpiPen gets FDA approval
The approval of a generic version of this product marks something of a milestone for FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb . Once launched, Teva's product will be the only generic, AB-rated/therapeutically equivalent version of EpiPen.

PUBG Mobile Now Has Over 100 Million Downloads on Android, iOS
Tencent and PUBG Corp announced today PUBG Mobile has been downloaded over 100 million times since its release four months ago. PUBG Mobile, like Fortnite , is an online multiplayer shooter game and the gameplay is better with more users.

Bethenny Frankel's ex-husband questions her 'parental judgment' after Dennis Shields' death
The NYPD told ET at the time that units responded to a 911 call at Trump Tower in New York City at 9:19 a.m. The suit followed charges made against Hoppy for stalking and harassing Frankel.

Celebrity low-carb diets 'take years off your life'
Sara Seidelmann, a research fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said in a statement. Participants filled out detailed questionnaires about their dietary habits - what foods, how much, how often, etc.