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Breaking Spaghetti in Two: Mathematicians Teach You How

Breaking Spaghetti in Two: Mathematicians Teach You How cooking spaghetti in pot with tomato close up

Science has spoken and found an answer to a pretty old dilemma: breaking spaghetti in half without fracturing it in a million pieces and making a huge mess in your kitchen.

Maybe it’s never crossed your mind. Maybe you’ve always cooked spaghetti the way that most specialists recommend it: plop the bunch as is in the boiling pot. But maybe you need another technique in your life, because you have a small pot, or you like your spaghetti shorter. Who knows what kind of a freak you are?

So, who solved it? Who sorted out the mystery of breaking spaghetti in half? It was two MIT mathematicians who cracked the case. The key to do this is to add a little twist in the spaghetti when you bend them. And they actually published their findings as an honest to goodness scientific paper. If you’re into math and also pasta, check it out here, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Breaking spaghetti in half: how to do it

The mathematicians were actually students at MIT in 2015, and they were looking for a final project. Ronald Heisser and Edgar Gridello wanted to figure out a way to achieve a clean break in the spaghetti, and not make a mess out of the process. And it’s been a valid scientifical question in years.

They found that twisting the spaghetti and bringing the end together can help you break the spaghetti in half. The catch? You need to do a pretty strong twisting motion. The twist has to happen at a 270-degree angle to work fine.

This isn’t the first time scientists tried to hack the challenge of breaking spaghetti. American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman once spent a night in his kitchen trying and failing to do the same thing. All of his attempts had the same outcome as the rest of us do: the spaghetti broke in 3-4 pieces, not two of equal length.

If this has given you an uncontrollable craving for spaghetti, you're not alone, friend. Here are all our recipes on the matter.

I’m a pop culture nerd who thinks too much about fried bacon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and life, the Universe and everything. I love food and sometimes you can see that on my hips, but I don't care that much about that.
What I do care more about is trying to eat healthier, even though I admit that I like to indulge in my food fantasies. I’m addicted to puns, so forgive me for that when you read my articles. I now know too much about nutrition to be fun to hang out with. So long and thanks for all the fish-based omega-3 fatty acids.

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