Magazine article ASEE Prism

A Shaky Idea

Magazine article ASEE Prism

A Shaky Idea

Article excerpt

LET'S SAY YOU'RE attempting to put a bit of salt on your fries, but the salt's not flowing out of the shaker too well. The top's not clogged, so what do you do? Probably bang on it a bit and shake it even harder, right? But researchers at Duke University have determined all that banging and shaking will likely make matters worse. Physics professor Robert Behringer, working with postdoc researcher Karen Daniels (who has since joined the faculty at North Carolina State University), has discovered that the more that granules in a container are agitated, the more likely they are to clump together into a rigid mass. That led them to deyelgp a method to either make granules "freeze" into a solid-state crystal formation or "melt" so they flow like a liquid."Our technique," Behringer says, "allows us to both control and measure the effect of different ways to energize a granular material, which has aot been possible before. …

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