Physicists Invent New Pasta Shape

Anelloni could help them understand physics mystery
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2014 7:33 AM CST

It's food for thought—quite literally. A pair of scientists in the UK have turned a physics problem into an Italian-style dish. They invented anelloni, whose name is based on the Italian word for ring, as a way of studying ring-shaped polymers, reports. Polymers, the site notes, are the "building blocks of plastics." Ring-shaped polymers can get very tangled, just like the new pasta does—unlike spaghetti, for instance, whose individual strands can usually be pulled out of a plate of the stuff, Davide Michieletto explains in a video.

"Make yourself a bowl of anelloni and it's likely to have gone cold by the time you've pulled all the rings apart and struggled your way to the messy end," Michieletto and Matthew Turner write. Ring-shaped polymers are "one of the last big mysteries in polymer physics," the experts note. They believe that further investigation of these polymers could lead to "a new state of matter, which we have called a 'topological glass.'" It's based on the idea that ring-shaped polymers move so slowly together that they could seem to be "frozen in place." Topological glass could spur the development of new kinds of building materials, they suggest. The two made the new pasta using linguine, and you can try making it using their recipe, they note at Physics World. (Jackson Pollock's work offers another way to show how physics works.)

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