Friday , March 5 2021

Want to know if spaghetti is al dente? Check how much it curls in the pot, Ars Technica


    

      It’s pasta-rific –

             

“It’s the change from rigid to viscoelastic behavior that drives the shape change.”

      

      

Place a strand of spaghetti in a pot of boiling water and it will start to sag as it softens, before sinking slowly to the bottom of the pot, where it will curl back on itself to form a U shape. A cursory explanation might be that as the spaghetti softens during cooking, it deforms more easily, and gravity causes the saggy strand to sink. But what accounts for the curling behavior? Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, provide a much more thorough explanation in
in Physical Review E.There have been a surprisingly large number of scientific papers seeking to understand the various properties of spaghetti, both cooking and eating it— the mechanics ofslurping the pastaInto one’s mouth, for instance, orspitting it out(aka the “reverse spaghetti problem”). The most well-known is the question of how to get dry spaghetti strands to break neatly in two, rather than three or more scattered pieces.

The late Richard Feynman famously puzzled over the dilemma, conducting informal experiments in his home kitchen. French physicists successfullyexplained the dynamicsat work in (**********************************************************************. They found that, counterintuitively, a dry spaghetti strand produces a “kick back” traveling wave as it breaks. This wave temporarilyincreasesthe curvature in other sections, leading to many more breaks. Basile Audoly and Sébastien Neukirch won the2015 Ig Nobel Prizefor their insight.

In (**********************************************************, two MIT students in search of a final project set out to discover if there was any way to control those natural forces to achieve a neat, clean break. They found that twisting the spaghetti and bringing the ends together would cause the strand to break in half — but it required a pretty strong twisting motion.

Finally, in (******************************************************************, Ars reported onfigured out the trick:twist the spaghetti (at) ******************************************************************************** (degrees) before slowly bringing the two ends together to snap the spaghetti in two. The twist weakens the snap-back effect discovered in (***********************************************************************. As the strand twists back and unwinds to its original straightness, it will release pent-up energy in the strand so there aren’t any additional breaks.

With that mystery solved, Berkeley scientists have turned their attention to another pressing pasta question: devising an accurate modelto predict how a single strand of spaghetti will change shape as it cooks. Spaghetti, like most pasta, is made of semolina flour, which is mixed with water to form a paste and then extruded to create a desired shape (in this case, a thin straight rod). The commercial products are then dried — anotheractivearea of ​​research, since it’s easy for the strandsto crackduring the process.

So what happens to the dried spaghetti when it is submerged in boiling water? Only a few seconds are needed for the strands to reach the same temperature as the water, but it takes a bit longer for water to work its way through the starch matrix of the pasta. As this happens, the spaghetti swells, and small amounts of a starch called amylose leach into the water. Finally, starch gelatinization occurs, a chemical process that governs textural changes, so one’s well-prepared spaghetti isal dente

A new model predicts the way a spaghetti rod turns from straight to curly as it cooks.******************************************************************************** Enlarge / ********** Three stages of spaghetti cooking process: (a) sagging, (b) settlings, and (c) curling.

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