The physics of spaghetti
Basile Audoly, 
Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris
(joint work with Sébastien Neukirch)
 
Simple objects taken from everyday life can be used to model  
mechanical structures such as those used in mechanical engineering or  
found in living organisms: the fragmentation of an egg shell, the  
compression of soda cans and the breaking of knots in cooked  
spaghetti are a few examples of simple systems whose behaviour was  
investigated only recently. After a short review of these studies, we  
shall focus on the following problem: when a stick of dry spaghetti  
pasta is bent beyond its limit curvature it does not simply break in  
halves but instead in many fragments. This intriguing behaviour,  
related to the more general question of the fragmentation of solids,  
is explained based on the equations of elasticity.