Have you ever intentionally tried to break spaghetti in half? Did you know that it’s nearly impossible to break a piece of uncooked spaghetti in half? I know a lot of people will now be questioning the veracity of this statement, but it’s true, and we will explain why.
I can imagine that a lot of people are now saying that a piece of uncooked spaghetti is thin, rigid and easy to break. No effort, or hardly any effort is even required to break a piece of spaghetti. This is true, but this statement has nothing to do with strength. It’s about breaking it in half, into only two pieces.
You can try this yourself. Take a piece of uncooked spaghetti and try to break it in half. What happens? I bet it snapped, but did it breaks into two? No? I’m willing to bet that several more pieces also broke off, preventing it from breaking into only two pieces. Why did this happen? Believe it or not, but a couple of physicists from France decided to try and figure out why you can’t break spaghetti in half. They obviously had a lot of spare time, or a little spare cash to waste answering the big questions that need an answer.
To find out the reason behind the phenomenon they used one of the simplest devices available, a high speed video camera. In discovering why spaghetti rarely breaks in half, they won an Ig Nobel Prize. So what exactly was their discovery?
When the two physicist tried to break the spaghetti in half they discovered that it fractures in many places, not just the location of the intended breakage. The slow motion of the snap showed that when the spaghetti reached breaking point instead of only breaking it sent ripples and waves along the length of the strand. These ripples and waves tend to bend more before the piece can straighten out, and this causes more breakages. This is known as a cascading failure mechanism. That’s the reason you can’t break spaghetti in half.