Anatomy of an Avalanche
Duke physicists Jonathan Barés and Robert Behringer and colleagues are using this computerized 3D rendering of beads in a box to serve as a model for soil, sand or snow. Colored lines show the network of forces as the virtual particles are pushed together. Thick red lines connect the particles that are experiencing the brunt of the force. By studying the forces inside granular materials as they’re squeezed, pulled or cracked, the researchers hope to better understand phenomena like the jamming of grain hoppers or the early warning signs of earthquakes and avalanches.