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Nov 8, 2019

Researchers model avalanches in two dimensions

Posted by in category: food

There’s a structural avalanche waiting inside that box of Rice Krispies on the supermarket shelf. Cornell researchers are now closer to understanding how those structures behave — and in some cases, behave unusually.

The researchers, led by James Sethna, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, have for the first time rendered a model for crackling noise in two dimensions. Their paper, “Unusual Scaling for Two-Dimensional Avalanches: Curing the Faceting and Scaling in the Lower Critical Dimension,” was published Oct. 30 in Physical Review Research. The paper’s lead author was Lorien X. Hayden, M.S. ‘15, Ph.D. ‘19, and co-author was Archishman Raju, M.S. ‘16, Ph.D. ‘18.

Milk enters Rice Krispies through a process known as “fluid invasion,” which is similar to the oil industry’s method of pumping pressurized water into porous sandstone to push out oil. The resulting noise — the cereal’s famous “snap, crackle and pop” — is a type of tiny “avalanche” that indicates a burst of milk invading pores in the puffed rice. Each avalanche is essentially composed of smaller-scale versions of itself, a proportionality shaped by “power law” distribution. Crackling noise also describes earthquakes, magnets and many other systems.

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