1997
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Statistical Physics

What keeps sandcastles standing?

Abstract
Any child playing on the beach knows that the physical properties of wet and dry sand are very different. Wet sand can be used to build sharp-featured sandcastles that would be unstable in dry sand. We have now quantified the effect of adding small quantities of liquid to a granular medium. Nanometre-scale layers of liquid on millimetre-scale grains dramatically increase the repose angle (the steepest stable slope that the substance can form) and allow the development of long-range correlations, or clumps.

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A. Czirok, A.-L. Barabási, T. Vicsek

Physical Review Letters 82, 209–212 (1999)

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Science 287, 2115 (2000)

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I. Albert, P. Tegzes, B. Kahng, R. Albert, J.G. Sample, M.A. Pfeifer, A.-L. Barabási, T. Vicsek, P. Schiffer

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