A quick Google search for the greatest mysteries in physics today raises a huge list of questions: What exactly is dark matter? Why does time only move in one direction? What happens in a black hole?
But sometimes, as American physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman discovered decades ago, everyday objects such as dry spaghetti noodles are similarly annoying puzzles.
One night while preparing his favorite meal with supercomputer pioneer Danny Hillis, Feynman noticed something strange about spaghetti. When a dry noodle is taken and broken, it almost always breaks into three or more pieces, tiny pieces that spray in every direction.
"Why is that true ̵
Decades later in spring 2015, two graduate students at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology found themselves in a strangely similar situation – only Ronald Heisser and his friend Edgar Gridello had broken spaghetti for more than two hours.
"For maybe a month, a month and a half, we'd just break up spaghetti after class, just cover the floor with broken spaghetti pieces." Hot, now doctorate. Student at Cornell University, the Washington Post said. He and Gridello had decided to take Feynman's spaghetti enigma as the last project for a class.
"I thought it would be cool to try something that started a famous physicist," Heisser said.
But Heisser and Gridello did not try to figure out why dry spaghetti noodles do not break halfway. This mystery had already been broken in 2005 by the French scientists Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, whose research earned them an Ig Nobel Prize, a parody prize that was to "celebrate the extraordinary" and "honor the imaginary".
The MIT students wanted to answer a bigger question: is it even possible to break a spaghetti noodle in half? Can it be done and if so, how?
Turns out, the answer is yes, with a twist. Literally.
With mathematical modeling, a unique spaghetti breaking device, and a high-tech camera capable of taking up to a million frames per second, Heisser, with the help of his MIT PhD student Vishal Patil, accepted what was classed as a project and turned it into the latest revelation in Feynman's famous puzzle.
Heisser and Patil discovered that all you have to do to halve spaghetti are their bends and twists and publish their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The turn is crucial, Patil told the Post. He created a mathematical model to explain the theory based on the research done by Audoly and Neukirch.
A decade ago, French scientists discovered that when a long thin object is broken by equal pressure on both ends "snap-back effect" – an energy wave that is released from the initial fracture, causing other parts of the object also break.
"In our study we go a little further and show that you can actually control this cascade of cascades and get two pieces if you twist it," said Patil. "You can control the breakage process and then you get two pieces instead Many, many pieces. "
Turning and bending distributes the stress exerted on the broken object, Patil said, weakening the" snap-back effect "and setting the unwinding pasta Energy released to prevent more fractures, according to a MIT press release
As expected, the theory had to break spaghetti – a lot of it.
Heisser said he believes the number is north of 500. Patil recalled Hours in the lab.
"We're in the lab right now, breaking spaghetti all the time," he said.
Luckily, instead of relying on it With his bare hands and manual strength, Heiss designed he is a special device.
"The way our equipment worked, you had a kind of clamp that clamps the ends of spaghetti," Patil said. "You have to clamp it hard enough so you can spin the spaghetti a lot, but soft enough that it does not just break at the ends."
While one clip turns to turn the spaghetti, the other clip glides to English:. German: www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…80&Itemid=58 Finally, Heisser and Patil came along. English: www.mjfriendship.de/en/index.php?op…27&Itemid=47 Several years of research concludes: A dry noodle had to be rotated nearly 360 degrees and slowly bent to achieve a clean break. MITT-release said:
"It was fantastic," said Heisser, remembering the moment when the spaghetti broke in half. "This is my first research project, I feel like I'm doing science." Even if the topic was "a little silly," he added.
While breaking spaghetti may seem frivolous, Patil said the research could be applicable to investigate fractures, usually a "chaotic and random" process that can be directed to a variety of materials. Patil added that the theory he and Heisser developed can be applied to any brittle rod-shaped object, such as pole vaulting.
"Understanding these complex fracture systems would be interesting in the future," he said. "There is still a lot to discover about fracture control, and this is an example of fracture control."
In fact, even more pasta work is needed. Patil said he was often asked which noodle type to test next, or whether he and Heiss wanted to learn linguine, which is flatter and more band-like compared to spaghetti.
However, Patel said he would not participate in any pasta research for the time being.
"I spent too much time with spaghetti," he said, laughing.
Hotter, on the other hand, is another story.
Although he's not ready to start On another project, he said he had not tired of breaking spaghetti.
"I still do it, only occasionally," he said. "I enjoy it."