September 16, 2009 Issue

Physics To Go 81 - Granular materials

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Physics in Your World

Spontaneous Separation of Charged Grains image
image credit: Troy Shinbrot, courtesy of the American Institute of Physics; image source; larger image

Spontaneous Separation of Charged Grains

These red and blue sand grains are mixed together--for now. Click the image to see what happens next. These differently colored sand grains aren't being sorted with any outside help, they're sorting themselves by charge. Find out why at Spontaneous Separation of Charged Grains.

Check out this Physics Central article to explore granular materials further. Don't miss the video on the research page of the standing wave made by shaken particles.

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Physics at Home

Mysterious Coffee

Next time you open a bag of vacuum-packed coffee, pay careful attention to how the coffee behaves when you squeeze the bag. This article from NASA illustrates why coffee is so mysterious and why NASA is interested.


From Physics Research

Granular Materials image
image credit: Bjornar Sandnes, University of Oslo; image source; larger image

Granular Materials

Is this the maze from Labryinth or the back of a kid's cereal box? It's actually fingers of air winding through a fluid and grain mixture as it drains. You can see more pictures here.

Find out about granular materials and research going on in the field from this University of California, Santa Barbara research page.

Worth a Look

The Physics of Sandcastles

Here's a practical application for the physics of sand--learn how you can make the ultimate sandcastle at The Physics of Sandcastles.

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