Physicists are not only dedicated to the study of black holes, relativity or atoms, no. They are also concerned with more mundane things… and even alimentary ones! Two scientists from the University of Warwick in the UK have created a new type of pasta called ‘anelloni‘, some kind of giants ties that are not intended to become the new star dish of Italian cuisine (the truth is that they are pretty hard to eat), but to demonstrate the complicated shapes that ring-shaped polymer molecules can take. Rigatoni, the farfalle, tagliatelle and tortiglioni, you should tremble with fear!
This original idea of Davide Michieletto and Matthew Turner derives its name from ‘anello’, ring in Italian, and has been released in the journal Physics World, where they also offer the secret recipe in case anyone is encouraged to try it in the kitchen.
The two researchers created the large pasta loops only with two eggs and 200 grams of wheat flour. Once cooked and mixed in a bowl, the pasta rings were extremely tangled, almost the same way as real ring-shaped polymers are massively intertwined.
As Michieletto explains, while it is easy to pull a single one from a plate of normal spaghetti, it is much more difficult to remove just one piece of pasta from lots of anelloni, which are horribly tangled.
The new pasta is just a bit of fun, because the real work of Michieletto and Turner involves to carry out computer simulations of ring-shaped polymers. These studies have shown that if the molecules are long enough, they are likely to be so entangled that they seem frozen in the place where they are. As explained in Physics World, if this were true in real life, and there is some evidence that it is, then this pair of physicists have discovered a new state of matter, which would be named ‘topological glass’.