Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sandy Science

From Reuters [Yahoo News]:

A lesson learned by centuries of beachcombers has been distilled to a physicist's formula: to make the perfect sandcastle, use eight parts sand to one part water.

The physicists' study, released on Wednesday before publication in the journal Nature Physics, is entitled, rather grandly, "Maximum angle of stability of a wet granular pile."

Although the subject is sandcastles, there are implications "for those preparing for or recovering from a watery disaster like a hurricane," physicist Arshad Kudrolli said in a telephone interview. Quoting again from Reuters:

"Our study is the first step, in some sense, in trying to understand what's the most stable angle that one can build, say, a retaining wall," he said. "And if it fails, where would the material end up? How much part of the land will give way?"

I would like to see one more implication from this study: Higher quality reading material at the beach. Could a few copies of Nature Physics really displace the latest trashy romance? One can always hope!

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