Soften like spaghetti
As hard spaghetti gradually becomes flexible in hot water, a series of physical processes take place. These can be modeled surprisingly well.
It speaks for the popularity of spaghetti that experts have been scientifically dealing with the behavior of the thin pasta sticks for decades. A few years ago, the question posed by the physicist Richard Feynman (1918–1988) as to why spaghetti can hardly be broken in two was answered. In most cases there are not two, but three or sometimes more fragments. From a culinary point of view, however, raw spaghetti is not exactly one of the most interesting foods. But in the meantime, research has also taken a look at cooked pasta. In 2020, two engineering scientists from the University of California, Berkeley presented a model that describes the mechanics of the transition in which sticks of spaghetti go from the solid to the pliable state and back again.
They picked up on a familiar situation: During preparation, the dry spaghetti is placed in a pot of hot water. In order not to have to break them, they are often first leaned against the wall of the pot. After a short time they deform and sink deeper into the water. What is going on in the process with the noodles? …