Constructing The Perfect Sand Castle

By Meera Dolasia on August 6, 2012

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Summer vacations are all about lazing around, frolicking on the beach and . . . . Building sand castles. However, no matter how hard we try, most of us never seem to get it right. Turns out, it's not because we are doing something wrong, but because there is a scientific method to the madness - At least that's the conclusion reached by a global team of researchers from Amsterdam,Franceand Iran.

Maryan Pakpour (Amsterdam) Mehdi Habibi (Iran) Peder Moller (France) and Daniel Bonn (Amsterdam) who published their scientific report on Nature on August 2nd, decided to research the science of building the perfect sand castle after discovering that the only previous paper on the topic had concluded that the stability of the structure was dependent on the capillary rise of water through the sand and therefore, only able to withstand a maximum sand castle height of 8 inches - As even the most novice sand castle builder knows that, is simply not true.

While they did use a few sophisticated instruments the team's research largely involved mixing in sand with varying amounts of water and testing cylindrically-molded sand mounds, to see which one was the strongest.

What they found was that the ideal mix was 1% water mixed in with 99% dry sand. Anything more resulted in a soggy mess, anything less, simply crumbled because it was too dry.

Another piece of advice from these experts? Use the buckets and spade only to bring the sand in and mold, not build the castle. That's because compacting with bare hands is what results in the strongest castles. Also not advisable, is thumping the sand with a spade - It does nothing to strengthen the castle, just makes it look uneven and disheveled.

As for the maximum height for a cylindrical structure? It varies with 2/3 power of the base radius of the column. For those of us that do not understand the scientific lingo, it simply means that if the columns are wide, the height of the castle has to be curtailed. While this may put a damper on your plans to building a castle with fortified walls, the good news is you can create a 2.5 meter tall tower on a base radius of just 20 cm, as long as, it's skinny.

So the next time you are on the beach see if you can use some of this scientific knowledge and impress your friends with a magnificent creation! Who knew that even building a sand castle involved science?

Resources: Gizmondo.com,dailymail.co.uk,nature.com

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148 Comments
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  • nikukyu
    nikukyuSunday, November 30, 2014 at 4:30 am
    Awesome I only wish it was summer! Brrrrrr it's cold nowadays... I love building sand castles, and now I know how to make a perfect one! Thanks dogo!
    • awesome_kid
      awesome_kidThursday, November 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm
      I love connecting science to things I do anyway.
      • pleasedo
        pleasedoFriday, October 31, 2014 at 1:52 pm
        wow
        • quown
          quownFriday, October 31, 2014 at 6:22 am
          cool i've wish i could do that so i can be cool
          • sky19
            sky19Friday, October 31, 2014 at 6:22 am
            this is awsome
            • 4804119205
              4804119205Friday, October 31, 2014 at 6:22 am
              thats awsome
              • happypug12
                happypug12Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 5:21 am
                I want to live in a house made of sand. Oh, well, I guess I'll just have to build myself one on Minecraft. P.S. Does anyone know any good server addresses? I really need one to connect to multiplayer. Thanks.
                • nikukyu
                  nikukyuSunday, November 30, 2014 at 4:32 am
                  Sorry happypug but I don't know how to do that. Mine craft is AWESOME THOUGH!
                • iseeyou!Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm
                  Yea that is so cool
                  • FlyingEagleMonday, July 28, 2014 at 4:54 pm
                    THESE SANDCASTLES LOOK AWESOME
                    • unknownMonday, May 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm
                      I'm going to have a birthday party where we do this

                      Vocabulary

                      capillarycompactingconcludedcurtailedcylindricallydisheveledfortifiedfrolickingmagnificentmoundsnovicesophisticatedstrengthenvarying

                      Geography

                      AmsterdamFranceIran

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