Fiber Optics from Spaghetti

After my failed attempts at making fiber-optic cable from fishing line, I decided to try another idea: spaghetti noodles.

One of the (many, many) comments I received after the fishing line debacle was that fiber optic cables need to be stiff, because of their strong cladding, a property the fishing line had been clearly missing.

I scanned my shelves for an acceptable material.

Spaghetti was a good candidate. It was strong, straight and stiff, and it had a clean slice at one end.

Immediately, I could see there would be trouble. Testing with a laser pointer was a complete failure. The laser light hardly penetrated the spaghetti noodles at all. I could see the light emerging from the spaghetti for about an inch, then nothing.

A similar experiment with a super-bright LED had similar results. Almost no light exited the spaghetti at the end of the noodle.

The next step was to cook the spaghetti. I pulled off the nylon zip-ties and nearly broke the bundle in half before I threw it all into a pot.

In a few minutes, it came out looking great. However, the noodles were twisted into a huge, knotted lump.

I set to work organizing the spaghetti into a straight bundle.



This took almost 40 minutes before I gave up. I don't understand how people can stand eating spaghetti. If you ask me, this is way too much work.

I trimmed the end of the spaghetti with a sharp knife. This gave me a nice flat target for my light entrance.

I dimmed the lights and gave the cooked spaghetti a try with the Super-bright LED keychain.

Nothing. The cooked pasta fibers blocked all of the light within two inches. It was a disaster.

A laser pointer yielded similar results. All the light was absorbed before it reached the end of the spaghetti noodles.


After two different materials, and very little success. I concede that unleashing the magical properties of fiber optics has eluded me... so far!

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May 6th, 2006.  

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