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I began boiling pasta on a power burner on our stove. After about ten minutes, I looked into the pot to see the pasta encircling the outer edge of the pot and standing vertically. Below is a picture. What makes pasta do that? Has anyone ever seen this phenomenon before?picture of pasta standing vertically

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  • $\begingroup$ When you say the pasta was 'circling the outer edge', do you mean the pieces of pasta were 'orbiting' around the rim in a particular direction? $\endgroup$ – Time4Tea Sep 26 '19 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Hi! No- the noodles weren't actually moving. They were stationary along the outer edge of the pot, but I'm interested in learning how they came to be in that formation. I literally just dumped them in the pot, left for ten minutes, and then came back to this visual. $\endgroup$ – Cashida D Sep 26 '19 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ electric or gas stove? Just wondering if convection currents might be involved $\endgroup$ – pentane Sep 26 '19 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ Hi - it's a gas stove. The particular "eye" that I used was the "power broiler." $\endgroup$ – Cashida D Sep 27 '19 at 13:34
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My best guess would be that it's due to convection flow passing through the pasta's cylindrical gap in a stable manner when upright.

Convection when the bottom is heated causes hot water (and possibly an amount of steam formation if very hot) at the bottom to flow upwards.

  • Pasta's that are lying down will be pushed around all the time and never really find rest.
  • Pasta's that are standing upright will not be pushed around (at least, much less) since the upwards flow can pass through the cylinder's gap.

Eventually, if any lying-down pasta's by chance happen to reach an upright state when tumbled about, then they would prefer to keep this state.

Only those that are upright along the pot's wall will be stable in this upright state. Upright pasta's in the interior will quickly be tumbled over by the lying-down pasta's that are jumping around. Therefor we see these preferred upright pasta's states mainly/only near the wall where they are stable and kept from falling over when hit by a bouncing pasta piece from the middle.

This would be my best guess on an explanation here.

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