September 30, 2022

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Why does spaghetti wrinkle in boiling water?

For physicists, spaghetti has always given a headache. Already, Richard Feynman, the American Nobel laureate in 1965, was able to understand why when you fold a spaghetti by taking it by the end, it is virtually impossible to divide it into just two pieces.

The answer relates to how the shock wave from the first fracture spreads along spaghetti and causes others to appear, and French physicists found it in 2005, winning the annual IgNobel Prize for the best research, strange and unlikely. But this is another story.

Most recently, Nathaniel N. Goldberg and Oliver M. O’Reilly from the University of California at Berkeley Lesson Another physical dilemma, spaghetti: What happens when you warp in boiling water. They start to bend, we know. It seems to be a matter of gravity (the wet part gets weaker and can no longer bear the weight of the part shown above). But if you immediately take a piece of spaghetti out of the water and put it on a surface, it will preserve the acquired curvature.

Spaghetti fit. To explain this change in shape, the two scientists wrote equations that predict the behavior of cooked spaghetti, concluding that there are three stages. The first crop: the pasta swells because of the water, which mixes with the starch and begins to bend, forming an arc, the ends resting one on the bottom and the other on the edge of the pot; Then it settles: half of the spaghetti tends to settle on the bottom and the other half on the inside edge; Finally the fold stage: the top half of the spaghetti is crimped and also pointed toward the bottom of the bowl.

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To verify their equations, the researchers left spaghetti in water at room temperature for two hours, and photographed it every 15 seconds, thus reproducing the cooking.

By Nicola Nosingo, from Fox 353 (March 2022), Here in the digital version. Also read the new focus on newsstands!