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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Aug 26;95(9):095505. Epub 2005 Aug 25.

Fragmentation of rods by cascading cracks: why spaghetti does not break in half.

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Laboratoire de Modélisation en Mécanique, CNRS/Université Paris VI, 4 place Jussieu, Paris, France.


When thin brittle rods such as dry spaghetti pasta are bent beyond their limit curvature, they often break into more than two pieces, typically three or four. With the aim of understanding these multiple breakings, we study the dynamics of a bent rod that is suddenly released at one end. We find that the sudden relaxation of the curvature at this end leads to a burst of flexural waves, whose dynamics are described by a self-similar solution with no adjustable parameters. These flexural waves locally increase the curvature in the rod, and we argue that this counterintuitive mechanism is responsible for the fragmentation of brittle rods under bending. A simple experiment supporting the claim is presented.

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