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Pasta Physics 101


September 07, 2018
 
Parents, middle school teachers, poster board manufacturers: lend me your ears. I come bearing good news. Our long, national science fair project nightmare is finally over.

 
I am referring, of course, to the terrifying dream that keeps countless grade school parents up at night. It involves coming up with a science experiment idea for your fifth-grader that is:

 
1) Edu-taining,

 
2) At least as good as the lawn chair hovercraft that that one boy's physicist mom totally did for him last week, and...

 
3) Can be completed in the next two hours with everyday household items because SOMEONE forgot it is due tomorrow morning.

 
From time immemorial, parents have turned in these hours of need to containers of vinegar and baking soda. They have placed the fate of their children's science grade in their chemical property's unfailing ability to blow up balloons, erupt paper mβché volcanos, extinguish birthday candles and perform other middle school-approved scientific phenomenon.

 
But that may be about to change.

 
Thanks to the brilliant work of two MIT researchers, these go-to chemical reactions may be soon relegated to the dust bin of science experiments past. That's because they have discovered something even better. They have discovered how to snap spaghetti cleanly into two pieces.

 
If you've ever tried to break spaghetti in two, you know what I mean. You grab a bunch of noodles and hold them by the ends with both hands. Then you bend them until they break. Naively, you THINK you are snapping them in two. But fragments of spaghetti shrapnel always end up flying into every crevice on your stove top.

 
A Nobel Prize-winning physicist confirmed this scientific phenomenon more than a decade ago, but he couldn't figure out how to solve it.

 
That's where the MIT researchers took over. I'm not going to give away their scientific reasoning, but I will tell you this: if you twist spaghetti really, really hard before you bend it, it will snap into just two pieces.

 
I have personally tested their hypothesis multiple times, and it works. Sort of.

 
The best part is, all it takes to conduct this experiment is a box of spaghetti. And a poster board. Plus, when you're finished, you can add some tomato sauce and parmesan, and you've got a perfectly nice dinner.

 
My only regret is that this discovery came along too late for my own children to benefit. But that is how science works. Things always seem to be invented the minute you no longer need them. I feel the exact same way about the baby mop, a darling all-in-one outfit I saw advertised that cleans the floor as a baby crawls around.

 
Of course, there are also benefits to growing up in less scientifically advanced times. Back then, they didn't have intruder drills.

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