24 July 2006

Durian Solves Pebble Question

I was browsing through my weekly summary of physics news when I read the abstract of this article. It was amusing in two ways, but first, the abstract:

A question that has been around since the time of Aristotle -- what shape is a pebble? -- has now been solved by physicists in France and the US. Douglas Durian of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues in Strasbourg say that a pebble is "a nearly round object with a near-Gaussian distribution of curvatures". All pebbles, regardless of their original shape, end up with a similar shape that depends solely on how the pebble was eroded over time. The results could help geologists determine the history of a pebble simply by looking at its geometry (Phys. Rev. Lett. 97 028001).

I find it amusing that pebbles can have such a delicate definition... It is surely interesting. Also, I think the researcher will be the topic of a handful of jokes if he were to work in NUS.

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