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Scientists solve spaghetti-snapping mystery

By T.K. Randall
August 17, 2018 · Comment icon 22 comments

Can you snap a piece of spaghetti neatly in two ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Dira0101
The reason why spaghetti won't snap in half without breaking in to multiple pieces has finally been found.
The problem, which gained prominence when Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman famously attempted to solve it back in the 1950s, has managed to perplex scientists for decades.

The concept is remarkably simple - why does a piece of dry spaghetti break in to several pieces when you attempt to snap it in half instead of neatly breaking in to two ?

Now, at last, a new study has not only solved why this happens, but has also found a way to prevent it.
The key lies in the fact that when the noodle breaks in one place, it triggers waves which travel down the length of the pasta strand and temporarily increase its curvature at other points - leading to multiple breakages.

To prevent this from happening, the secret is to twist the noodle before you snap it, which prevents the secondary waves from causing additional breaks.

It might not be rocket science, but at least the age-old mystery has finally been solved.

Source: Gizmodo | Comments (22)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by DirtyDocMartens 6 years ago
If you read the article, you'll notice right away that it was a grad student project; in other words, new scientists are learning how to do better research. Usually, students cover the cost of grad school with financial aid, scholarships, or grants. Not much tax money is directly spent on projects like these.
Comment icon #14 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
Useless? Not at all. For example, I can easily envision further, more advanced studies in this to, say, help reduce the amount of hazardous supersonic fragmentation debris from turbine engine failure... by possibly applying a calculated pre-torsion dynamic to the blades. Could save people's lives during a flight experiencing gross turbine engine failure.
Comment icon #15 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
Yummmmmmm.... I do like a good pasta meal. I'm thinking this week at trying my hand at a good beef-tip stroganoff recipe. I need to get that sauce down right... no pre-packaged sauce... I want it as authentic and yummy as possible. I've been getting some great clues on the Web. Will see how it goes when I get around to it, shortly. I do know that quality ingredients, and fresh ingredients for the sauce are of paramount importance. No pre-packaged dry sauce that you add milk too. I have had good luck with other homemade pasta meals via Betty Crocker online, such as tuna casserole (yummy), but ... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by freetoroam 6 years ago
Mathematicians solve famed spaghetti mystery well i must say this is the first time i have heard about this mystery. i put spaghetti in hot water,  give it a couple of seconds, no more than that, then bend it with a spatula, it breaks in 2. 
Comment icon #17 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
And for the beef tips themselves, I'm thinking of using rib-eye steak (I love rib-eye), cut into strips and marinating with a quality homemade sauce and/or wine whilst in a stove-top pan. I need to research the marinating sauce and process. This is a work in progress...
Comment icon #18 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
Good. Never tried that... always broke it before going into the boiling water. Will have to try that.
Comment icon #19 Posted by susieice 6 years ago
I always make my own sauces. I can control what goes into it that way. I'll have to try that freetoroam. I always break them first. Tomorrow I'm going to make Haluski with homemade noodles. Same ones I use when I make pepper pot. 
Comment icon #20 Posted by Emma_Acid 6 years ago
Almost ALL science is useful, even when wrong. 
Comment icon #21 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
Yes indeed!  It's sometimes called "basic research"; an invaluable conjugate to both science and technology. One need look no further than the fascinating way in which the concept for the now ubiquitous microwave oven was developed... basic research regarding intense radio waves, and in one session the personal chocolate bar of a researcher started melting... Eventually, and directly from that event, the microwave oven was born. And you know the company 3M? Well, they have an entire bank of research chemists spending all day doing weird stuff with chemicals... to be evaluated for market usefu... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
How dare I end my thoughts without quality music! My bad. So... Enjoy!!! (Paul McCartney & James Corden)---"Hey Jude"  

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