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iMechanica Video: Why spaghetti never snaps in half? 130,000 fps slow mo video reveals

iMechanica Video's picture

Challenge yourself to snap a spaghetti stick in half by bending two ends. It always snaps into three or more pieces, but not two. But why? Indeed this phenomenon has puzzled many people, including the great Richard Feynman, for many years. The puzzle was only solved in recent years. Slow mo videos by ultrahigh speed camera reveal why. Check out this iMechanica Video with 6+ million view on YouTube. 

Like this video? Check out other iMechanica Videos in the "Mechanics in slow mo" playlist. If you don't see it, you don't get it.


Teng Li's picture

In 2005, two french researchers Sebastien Neukirch and Basile Audoly explained in a PRL paper that when you bend a spaghetti stick, a vibration wave sets off from the top of the curved spaghetti throughout the rest of the stick. This “snap-back” vibration leads to the fragmentations. They later even won an Ig Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006.

In 2018, a group of researchers at MIT reported in PNAS that, by twisting the spaghetti stick really hard while bending it, one can break the stick in two halves.

I tried many times to test out the twist+bending approach in my kitchen but never succeeded to snap a spaghetti stick in half. It always snaps into at least 3 pieces. Did anyone get luck?

Jibril Coulibaly's picture

This is rare, but when pole vault athletes break their pole, they always snap in more than two pieces, e.g.,

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