Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists Find that Size Matters When Initiating an Object's Movement Through Grains

30.09.2008
A team of Penn State physicists has discovered that the size of grains, such as sand grains, under which an object is buried is important in determining the force required to begin raising the object.

No one, until now, has discovered how much force is required to initiate an object's movement through grains. The result may be useful for engineering foundations for objects to be anchored in sandy soils, such as power-line towers, or for designing industrial mixer blades, such as those used in pharmaceutical processing. The team's paper is published this month in the journal Physical Review Letters.

"We found that less force is needed to lift an object that is buried beneath small grains than is needed to lift an object that is buried beneath larger grains," said Peter Schiffer, associate vice president for research and a professor of physics at Penn State. "Basically, if you are buried alive and you have to push open a coffin lid, it’s better to be buried under fine-grained sand than under pebbles," he said.

According to Schiffer, other researchers have examined how much force is required to maintain an object's movement through grains, but no one previously had looked at how much force is required to initiate it. "The two measurements are different," he said. "When initiating the movement of an object, the grains immediately above the object must be shifted out of the way to make space for the object to move, which requires that the surrounding grains be loosened. In contrast, an object that already is in motion requires less force to maintain that motion because the surrounding grains are already loosened. It’s the loosening of grains around the object that seems to make the difference," said Schiffer.

The scientists built an apparatus that measures the force required to push a flat circular plate upward from the bottom of a cylindrical bucket that is filled with glass beads. The team measured the force using different sizes of glass beads and found that the smallest beads required the least amount of force to lift the plate. "The total weight of the grains above the plate was adjusted so that it was the same regardless of grain size," said Dan Costantino, a Penn State graduate student and one of the paper's lead author.

In the future, the team plans to measure the force required to initiate the horizontal movement of an object through grains. They also plan to substitute water or a heavy liquid for the air in between the grains. "A liquid that has the same density as the grains will effectively make the grains weightless, so we can further investigate whether the strength of grains comes from their weight or from the way they are packaged together," said Costantino.

This research was supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation.
Sara LaJeunesse
CONTACTS
Peter Schiffer: (+1) 814-863-9658, pes12@psu.edu
Dan Costantino: (+1) 814-865-7260, djc321@psu.edu
Barbara Kennedy (PIO): 814-863-4682, science@psu.edu

Barbara K. Kennedy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu
http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Schiffer9-2008.htm

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology
22.08.2017 | Université libre de Bruxelles

nachricht Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>