Breaking spaghetti
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How bent spaghetti break

The problem

Dry spaghetti pasta, when bent beyond their limit curvature, dynamically break into many fragments. This phenomenon has intrigued many authors, among which Richard Feynman. In the book No Ordinary Genius (edited by Christopher Sykes, 1994), Daniel W. Hillis describes his and Feynman's experiments:

"Once we were making spaghetti, which was our favorite thing to eat together. […] If you get a spaghetti stick and you break it, it will almost always break into three pieces. Why is this true --- why does it break into three pieces? We spent the next two hours coming up with crazy theories. We thought up experiments, like breaking it underwater because we thought that might dampen the sound, the vibrations. Well, we ended up at the end of a couple of hours with broken spaghetti all over the kitchen and no real good theory about why spaghetti breaks in three."

See also the video Spaghetti stumps the Chief.


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