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August 09, 2012


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Very entertaining and very important stuff. Thanks for sharing it.

Also, it sometimes amazes me that such experimentation hasn't been done already.

I would like to learn more about attempts to apply phase diagrams to granular material.
If you feel inclined to apply your explanatory gifts to that topic, all the better, but in any case is there a handy reference? Thanks much.

Richard - the phase diagram approaches that I have come across address the phenomenon of jamming, a behaviour that bizarrely overlaps granular materials, glasses, and foams. I wish that my comprehension of physics was at a level that allowed me to attempt to apply my "explanatory gifts" (thank you for your generosity) to this work. However, once I am faced with "Super-Arrhenius increase of the viscosity" or "data for the colloidal glass transition that can be fit to the Vogel-Fulcher form," then to say that I am out of my depth is a gross understatement.

For a resource that at least begins with an accessible introduction to the issues before becoming, at least to me, quite opaque, try http://www.physics.upenn.edu/liugroup/talks/0811.UToronto.pdf

Also, by the same group headed by Liu at Penn, see http://www.physics.upenn.edu/liugroup/jamming.html

I would be most interested if you would share your level of penetration of this fascinating (but challenging - even to the researchers) topic!

Thanks very much, Michael, if I can make any headway with this I'll try to say what I think I know. Being in Philadelphia, maybe I'll run out to Penn and see if they can clarify matters.
My interest arises from a very vague notion that narrative might be regarded as the flow of information through phase space, divided by critical points of irreversibility, such as killing one's own father and marrying one's own mother, or learning what one has done. The modern murder mystery is a descendant of the near-determinate sense of event in classical plots, with slow buildup of information suddenly lurching into avalanches of change. Story as self-organizing criticality. But I haven't a clue what to do with this, or if it is anything other than a fancy metaphor. So I keep poking at it.

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