Friday, December 5, 2014

Floor Wax Plus Dessert Topping Next

A couple of physicists at the University of Warwick in England wanted to demonstrate how the ring-shaped molecules of polymers get twisted around and tangled up. So they did what anyone would do: They invented a pasta dish that modeled the behavior.

If you're invited to dinner at the home of either Davide Michieletto or Matthew Turner, you may very well be served a dish of anneloni, or pasta rings, which began to illustrate the twisty nature of those polymer molecules. It takes its name from the Italian annello, which translates into English as "ring."

Polymers are large molecules composed of repeating subsets of molecules -- sort of like like smaller molecules grouped together in patterns. Once they become long enough, they begin twisting around each other, sometimes to the point that they are no longer flexible. The picture with the story at Physicis World illustrates an obvious but less tasty and more frustrating example: Christmas lights. They illustrate the same characteristics, but are not nearly so good with marinara sauce.

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