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16 августа 2018, 11:37

Finally, An Answer to the Age-Old Spaghetti Mystery


Stay on target

Before you throw a handful of spaghetti into a pot of boiling water, try this experiment: Hold a single stick at both ends and bend until it fractures.

Keep trying until you can break the noodle in two. Or you’ve run out of tonight’s dinner.

The so-called “spaghetti challenge,” which suggests it’s nearly impossible to snap a piece of pasta clean in half, has confounded scientists for decades.

In 2005, physicists from France came up with a theoretical explanation for why the sticks refuse to snap in two. The theory won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize, but didn’t clarify whether dry spaghetti can actually be broken in half.

A new MIT study, however does. And the answer is yes. Sort of.

According to a paper published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , researchers have found a way—by bending and twisting dry noodles.

Experimenting with hundreds of spaghetti sticks and a purpose-built apparatus, the team discovered that if a piece of pasta is twisted past a certain critical degree, then slowly bent in half, it will crack in two.

What sounds like a colossal waste of time, however, could have far-reaching applications, like better understanding crack formation and how to control fractures in other rod-like materials.

“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,” co-author Jörn Dunkel, associate professor of physical applied mathematics at MIT, said in a statement.

“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.”

Those students are Ronald Heisser and Vishal Patil, now graduate students at Cornell University and MIT, respectively.

Heisser initially developed the twist technique in 2015, but wanted to investigate the problem more deeply. So, obviously, he built a machine to do the work: A clamp on one end rotates the noodle by various degrees, while a bracket on the other slides forward to bend the pasta.

In the end, he and Patil found that by first twisting the spaghetti at almost 360 degrees, then slowly bringing the two ends together, it snapped exactly in two.

The pair also developed a mathematical model to explain the lack of a “snap-back effect,” in which a secondary wave caused by a stick’s initial break creates additional fractures.

“Taken together, our experiments and theoretical results advance the general understanding of how twist affects fracture cascades,” Dunkel said.

For now, the standard successfully predicts how twisting and bending with break perfectly cylindrical rods. There is no word yet on other pasta types.

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Source: https://www.geek.com/news/finally-an-answer-to-the-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-1749190/?source=news