Friday, June 26, 2009

Sand in an Hourglass: New Frontier in Science

"Grains of Sand Reveal Possible Fifth State of Matter"
Wired Science (June 24, 2009)

"In the formation of droplets in a stream of falling sand, scientists have witnessed a dynamic that points beyond the boundaries of traditional physics, and may represent one aspect of a fifth state of matter.

" 'Here we have a material right underneath our noses, that everybody grows up playing with in a sandbox, yet it's full of surprises for scientists,' physicist said Heinrich Jaeger of the University of Chicago.

"The droplets formed because of instabilities in the subtle atomic forces that attract sand grains to each other. Something similar happens to water falling from a faucet, but the forces acting on those molecules are 100,000 times stronger...."

The article includes two YouTube videos, illustrating the action of falling particles (grains of sand and iron balls). It also introduces what could be a very interesting aspect of matter.

We've been looking at sand running through hourglasses for centuries. Now, someone took a really close look: and found a new facet of the universe.

Here's one of the videos:

"Falling Sand"

wired, YouTube (June 24, 2009)
video, 0:22

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