Nuclear Pasta may be the Strongest Material in the Entire Universe

James Marshall
September 21, 2018

The strongest material in the known universe is a odd form of pasta - it's not campanelle, gnocchi, or penne, but rather an esoteric-like concoction called nuclear pasta, which is formed by the ungodly pressure found inside a neutron star.

NASA scientists say that a piece of neutron star the size of a cube of sugar would weigh as mount Everest. The simulations showed that the enormous densities and odd shapes have made nuclear material inside neutron stars so dense that it is likely the strongest material in the entire universe.

According to researchers from McGill University, a substance of that name may be the strongest material in the universe.

Because of the vast gravity, the outer layers of neutron stars freeze solid to form a crust that surrounds a liquid core.

Nuclear pasta is one of those curiosities. This weird kind of noodle is kneaded below the crust of neutron stars and, in a new study, a powerful computer simulation has taken a stab at manipulating this stellar noodle to find that it's the strongest material in the cosmos. The vast gravity makes the outer layer of the neutron star freeze solid, similar to how Earth's thin crust envelops a liquid core.

Over the course of these simulations - which required 2 million hours worth of processor time or the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU - virtual nuclear pasta was stretched and deformed until it was pushed to its limits.

Due to their calculations, they found it to be the strongest known material to exist, ever. The team determined that, to shatter a plate of nuclear pasta, it could take about 10 billion times the force needed to shatter steel.

Understanding the strength of nuclear pasta will help astronomers studying neutron stars to better understand their physical properties-allowing them to test out theories and models. The deeper you travel into the neutron star, the more elongated the neutrons become. "Knowing the strength of the neutron star crust is like knowing the strength of rocks on earth; it tells you about how big earthquakes can be and how tall mountains can get", Caplan said. "This work only studied lasagna, but pasta comes in a lot of shapes".

This is especially important as physicists can now measure gravitational waves: the ripples in space-time caused by massive cosmic objects like neutron stars and black holes spinning, colliding and merging. "Maybe I'll try spaghetti next", Caplan said.

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