Science of friction is a bit rough

Science of friction is a bit rough

Lab experiments show limitations of classical equations

By Devin Powell, 17:40 PM June 17, 2011

It’s no wonder earthquakes are so difficult to predict. Even simple laboratory simulations of the friction breakdowns that send tectonic plates lurching into motion are maddeningly difficult to explain.

By playing with plastic blocks that stick and slip much like rock, physicists are challenging centuries-old ideas about the nature of friction itself. Seemingly unimportant differences at small scales can have big consequences, an Israeli team reports in an upcoming Physical Review Letters. ...

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