How to Tell If Your Spaghetti Is Done Using Just a Ruler

Scientists found themselves working from home along with just about everyone else when universities shut down in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of research laboratories posed a unique challenge for experimentalists, in particular. That’s how physicists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) found themselves casting about for experiments that could be done at home in the kitchen. The physicists ended up investigating the physics of cooking pasta—first conducting home experiments, then repeating them with greater precision in the lab once the university reopened.

Cooking instructions on most packaged dried pasta typically recommends an 8- to 10-minute cooking time, but this imprecise method can result in a

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