Remember those Prince Spaghetti commercials from the 70s that featured a boy named Anthony being summoned home by his mom shouting for him from the window of their North End apartment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ti1hnLiLw)? Well, in reading this article, I couldn't help but think that Anthony wasn't running home to eat his mom's spaghetti dinner. Instead, he knew that Wednesday was the day to solve the age-old culinary physics problem of cleanly breaking a strand of spaghetti. To borrow from another classic 70s commercial, "Sorry Anthony." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pJw3N4KmMQ) It appears that MIT grads Ronald Heisser and Vishal Patil have cracked the code on this kitchen conundrum.
If you happen to have a box of spaghetti in your pantry, try this experiment: Pull out a single spaghetti stick and hold it at both ends. Now bend it until it breaks. How many fragments did you make? If the answer is three or more, pull out another stick and try again. Can you break the noodle in two? If not, you’re in very good company. The spaghetti challenge has flummoxed even the likes of famed physicist Richard Feynman ’39, who once spent a good portion of an evening breaking pasta and looking for a theoretical explanation for why the sticks refused to snap in two.