Glass beads cluster as they flow

High-speed camera catches liquidlike behavior in a stream of granular material

By Jenny Lauren Lee, 15:19 PM June 24, 2009

Particles in flowing granular material can cluster like a stream forming droplets as it comes out of a faucet. The clustering is due to attractive forces that create a weak surface tension in grains of glass, scientists report in the June 25 Nature.

Previously, scientists thought grains did not display surface tension, or if they did, the effects were too small to change the flow of the particles. “But this experiment says that if we look very carefully, we find surface tension is almost z...

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