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?