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Cosmic revelations coded in pasta

The Flying Spaghetti MonsterA "Pastafarian" is a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But only the illuminated few, whom you are about to join, appreciate the cosmic secrets written in Italian pasta.

In Italian, spago means "string". Remove the final "o" and add the diminutive ending –etto, and you get spaghetto, meaning "little string".

Following the regular rule for masculine nouns, its plural is spaghetti, meaning "little strings". So the Flying Spaghetti Monster turns out to be a hidden reference to that most modern of cosmological hypotheses, String Theory!

The pasta 'stelline'As Galileo languished under house arrest following trial by the Inquisition, were other astronomers using his improved telescope to scan the heavens? Could they have encoded their new knowledge in the form of a pasta, stelline?

The derivation of the name of this pasta starts with stella, meaning "star". Removing the final "a" and adding the feminine diminutive ending –ina gives stellina, meaning "little stars", which is obviously what they look like. Note 1

The Butterfly NebulaTo the left, the magnificent Butterfly Nebula, NGC 6302, in the constellation Scorpius. Perhaps this feature of the heavens was known to medieval astronomers. What kind of detail could they see through their telescopes?

FarfalleDid they avoid the inquisition by again coding their discoveries in the form of a pasta, the well-known farfalle, seen to the right? Farfalle in Italian means "Butterflies". A long time ago, in a galaxy far, farfalle away.

This revelation is further hidden from English speakers, who call these "bow-ties". But I know a butterfly when I see one.

There are other heavenly references known in the secret halls of the Pastafarians, coded in pasta.

Consider the Ring Nebula, echoed in anellini (from anello, "ring", plus –ino = anellino, "little ring", plural anellini):

The Ring nebula     The circular pasta anellini

We all know of the constellation Gemini, one of the astrological signs of the Zodiak. The word gemini is Latin for "twins", and the constellation is usually taken to represent the twin brothers Castor and Pollux, from Greek mythology.

Gemelli, 2 fat pasta strands twisted togetherThe corresponding word in Italian (a Latin-based language) is gemelli, and the pasta of that name (right) comprises two thick pasta strands twisted together. According to a Wikipedia article on the subject, "The Tarot card associated with Gemini is 'The Lovers', which portrays Adam and Eve ... the inseparable figures being an allusion to the beginning of mankind.

So can we ignore the obvious reference to the double-helix of DNA, basis of our genetic heritage?

Dish of capelli d'angelo pastaThe Flying Spaghetti Monster needs assistance, of course, to manage all that he has on his plate. Sugo di pomodoro (tomato sauce), erbe aromatiche (aromatic herbs), and formaggio parmigiano (Parmesan cheese).

And assistants, his angels. These are commemorated in the pasta capelli d'angelo, in English "angel-hair pasta", seen to the left. As befits their lesser status, their noodly appendages are much thinner and lighter than those of the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself.

But were the angels our only flying visitors?

Dischi volantiWere early astronomers aware of others, extraterrestrials? To the right you see yet another Italian pasta, dischi volanti, which means "flying disks", or what we would more typically call "flying saucers".

Which brings us full circle back to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who, having created the world, clearly went on to create pasta in all its wondrous forms. Who else could have passed on to the Italians the sheer genius to create an entire gamut of dishes out of a single basic substance, paste (a Wikipedia page called List of Pasta counts 68 different types).

I normally post a blog entry every Thursday evening. But because of the urgency of the revelations contained herein, I'm posting this entry two days early, today, April 1, 2014.

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© 2014 Lawrence J. Krakauer   Click here to send me e-mail.
Originally posted April 1, 2014

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Footnotes (click [return to text] to go back to the footnote link)

Note 1:   Throughout this entry, you'll learn about Italian diminutive endings. All nouns in Italian are either masculine or feminine, and diminutive endings can be added to make whatever the noun represents smaller. Generally, the original final vowel is removed before adding the ending.

Endings added to masculine nouns usually end in "o", and to make the noun plural, the "o" usually changes to an "i". Endings added to feminine nouns usually end in "a", and to make a plural, the "a" usually changes to an "e".

Thus we've seen that adding –etto to the masculine noun spago ("string") gives spaghetto ("little string", plural spaghetti), and adding –ina to the feminine noun stella ("star") gives stellina ("little star", plural stelline). You can figure out the rest yourself.

Pretty much all the Italian words for types of pasta are plural. For more on that subject, see my earlier blog entry Biscotti (bis). There you can also learn about why there's an "h" in spaghetti. It's needed to maintain the hard pronunciation of the "g", because a "g" directly in front of an "e" would be soft. That is, spagetti would be pronounced "spa-JET-tee" (think of the pronunciation of the Italian ice cream geloto).

The English word "pasta" comes from the identical Italian word - in Italian, it means "paste". Curiously, the Italian plural of the word pasta is paste (pronounced sort of like "POSS-tay"). I italicized one Latin word and all Italian words in this entry (hmm, "italicize", that seems appropriate).   [return to text]

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