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Mac & Cheese Fibonacci Spiral

Flickr Mosaic: In Numerical Order

Krazydad Irregular Ryan Govostes writes:

Hey Jim,

I noticed a neat phenomenon while making myself a bowl of nutritious EasyMac (the fake microwaveable macaroni-and-powdered-cheese product from Kraft). The first step is to pour the noodles into a bowl and add a bit of water, then microwave for a few minutes. Now, obviously, when you put the noodles in the bowl they’re all jumbled up and arranged in no real order. When I pulled the bowl out, though, the noodles had all arranged themselves into a magnificent phyllotaxy-like pattern, with all the noodles oriented approximately the same way and no overlap.

I was too hungry to stop and take a photo, but it’s an easily repeated experiment. Happen to know the science behind this mystery?

I’m still hoping to acquire a photo of this magnificent phenomenon, but in the meantime here’s a guess:

The fibonacci spiral is the optimal way to pack circles in a round container – each circle gets the maximum amount of space. So, when the water heats up, the noodles are going to jostle and push against each other and find that optimal packing, kind of like corks floating in a bowl.

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