✓ An `uncertainty principle' in granular mechanics.
Below is an excerpt on this issue from our review chapter, "Granular Systems", in The Oxford Handbook of Soft Condensed Matter (Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2015):
"...these calculations are idealised and taking into consideration the redundancy is problematic. In real systems in mechanical equilibrium, exact redundancy is possible only when a grain has exactly two force-carrying contacts, in which case they must be equal, opposite and align along the line between the contacts. For grains with three contacts or more, it is impossible to determine the force directions in general with absolute accuracy and, in particular, whether those coincide exactly at a point. At most one can say that the forces apply very small torques to the grain because the `region of coincidence' (the shaded region in figure 5.10b) is small. Consequently, except for two-contact grains, the equations are never really redundant - they are at most negligible. It follows that the value of $z_c$ depends to some extent on the level of accuracy of the measurement of forces; the more accurate the measurement, the more torque balance equations need to be included and the higher the value of $z_c$.
This sounds strangely like an `uncertainty principle' - the more accurate the measurement the more equations one needs to determine the stresses. This `uncertainty principle' is also a manifestation of the inherent relation between the structure on the granular level and the stress field that the assembly supports ...".
✓ A-thermal (or granular) statistical mechanics appears to give intriguing insight into the nature of reality, time and our perception of these two. I am not referring to entropy and the arrow of time, but rather insight into time's existence in the first place.
✓ RB is a keynote speaker at the workshop "Emerging Scales in Granular Media" at the Hong Kong Uniersity of Science and Technology, January 14-16, 2020. Presentation title: "Surprising detailed balance in far-from-equilibrium structural dynamics of dense gtanular fluids", based on a recently submitted paper by Wanjura, Gago, Matsushima, and Blumenfeld.
✓ RB nominated a "High Level Foreign Talent" in China and a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Hunan Central South University. Very useful for a long-term visa.
✓ "Structural Evolution of Granular Systems: Theory", by Wanjura, Gago, Matsushima, Blumenfeld, was submitted to Phys. Rev. Lett. In this paper, we formulate a theory to quantify the evolution of the structure of granular matter under external loading, and test predictions against numerical simulations.
✓ "The unusual problem of upscaling isostaticity theory for granular matter" by Blumenfeld, was submitted to the special issue of Granular Matter in memorium of Bob Behringer. In this paper, I describe a method to coarse-grain to the continuum the sterss equations in solid granular media.
✓ "Support of Modified Archimedes' Law Theory in Granular Media" by Feng, Blumenfeld, Liu, has been published in Soft Matter. In this paper, we elucidate the different mechanisms governing penetration of solid objects into granular materials and show that real granular materials share the same universal behaviour as frioctionless spheres and even water!
✓ "Force-based three-dimensional model predicts mechanical drivers of cell sorting" by Revell, Blumenfeld, Cjalut, has been published in Proc. Roy. Soc. B: Biological Sciences. In this paper, we elucidate the roles of physical mechanisms in stem cell sorting in the embryo.
✓ "Stress Tensor for Dense Granular Flow in Plug-Free Regions" by Schwartz and Blumenfeld, has been published in Phys. Rev. E. In this paper, which has taken 6 years to complete, we derive frm forst principles the rheology of dense plug-free particulate fluids and put the solid-friction-based rheology on solid fundamental basis.
✓ Clara Wanjura has received her masters degree.
✓ "Equally probable positive and negative Poisson's ratios in disordered planar systems" by Verstreken, Chalut, Blumenfeld, has been published in Soft Matter. In this paper, we show that disordered assemblies of isostatically linked compliant triangles are, surprisingly, equally likely to have negative and positive Poisson's ratios.
✓ RB will be giving 4 lectures at the "Summer School on Soft Matter and Biophysics" on stress field theory in particulate media. Expect lively informal discussions. All welcome.
✓ I now have a paper that I cannot read (!) "Numerical simulation of a spinning sphere moving in granular matter" in Acta Physica Sinica.
✓ RB is chairing session K48 of "Athermal Systems and Statistical Mechanics" at the APS meeting, March 5-9, LA, USA. Please join us there.
✓ "Archimedes' law explains penetration of solids into granular media: modelling and experimental support" by Kang, Feng, Blumenfeld, Liu, has been published in Nature Communications. In this paper, we show that the process of quasi-static object penetration into dense granular matter is governed by a simple, albeit universal, Archimedes' law.
These pages have grown uncontrollably from a modest beginning in 1993, when a home page was a rarity. I cannot pinpoint when exactly over the years it was that I lost the fight against this unstable self-(dis)organised growth. I was probably never in control.
You may notice that the pages are written in the old basic HTML format. This is because none of the current fancy new softwares, which essentially do all the nitty-gritty work, existed. Hence, there are no fancy java scripts, flashing lights and colours, background music, or automatically starting videos. This may be one of the last bastion of the HTML purists, uncluttered by sights or sounds. As my friend Peter once put it: "This is about delegation of responsibility. About trust. About subsidiarity. It's a small-scale mirror of so many of our every day problems."
Anyway, my publication pages are updated regularly ... after a fashion. The rest not so much. If your time is short, I recommend to browse my 'Selected publications' and then move to the less frequently updated 'research interests' page. Much of my research is distilled into limericks at the bottom of this page. You are, of course, welcome to visit all the pages but there is always the possibility of getting lost in the overgrown meandering paths.
Often, when I finish developing a model or a theory, I write a limerick that summarises it. The weight and rythm are not always great, but they do describe, as accurately as possible in a limerick form, the modelling ideas and the relevant physics. Below are the limericks I wrote so far, each with a link to a paper that the work produced, if it has.