Multitudes of amateur chefs will soon enjoy perfect al dente pasta and cleaner kitchen walls, as new research suggests how measurements with a rulernot the mythologized throwing on the nearest vertical surface may be the best method to verify when pasta is fully cooked.
In their remarks at the American Physical Society Meeting: Science Al dente: Elastocapillarity and swelling of cooked pasta, MechSE assistant professor Sameh Tawfick and his research team have used basic physical principles and conclusions, using a ruler to measure the stiction distance between two vertically hanging pastas to determine their cooking status.
In a study, they describe several aspects of pasta noodle physics as a function of cooking. It is also a base of simple reasoning and swelling that first covers module changes, and finally elastocapillarity as a method to gauge stiffness and hence the cooked texture.
The researchers investigate pasta''s swelling and softening as a result of liquid imbibition, as well as the elastic deformation and adhesion of pasta due to capillary force. As water enters the pasta during cooking, it softens slowly from the outside out inward as starch weakens.