14 December 2004

Quicksand

by Matt Rubinstein at 2:52 pm

bloodbeach.jpgOnce again, it looks like the comic books were right after all. Scientists have finally worked out how to make dry quicksand, and even concede that it could happen in naturally in deserts and such. Formerly, the only kind of quicksand with any kind of empirical support was the “wet” variety, which is frankly a bit of a disappointment. It’s never very deep, and it’s actually denser than you, so you can easily float in it if you keep your head. Compare this to dry quicksand:

To see how the dry quicksand behaved, the researchers suspended a ping-pong ball partly filled with bronze grains above the pit. They then burnt through the thin rope holding the ball. To their surprise, it disappeared beneath the sand instantaneously. Though the expected splash did not happen, a more dramatic effect was seen. “A straight jet of sand shot violently into the air after about 100 milliseconds,” the team writes in the journal Nature today.

Not only does dry quicksand swallow you whole in a moment, it shoots up a straight geyser of itself, like an evil mineral belch! Now that is some serious sand. I’m definitely going to use this, somehow. You mark my words.

The team behind Blood Beach—which always fascinated me in the video shop but which I never saw—may have been thinking of conventional “wet” quicksand, though it displays many of the properties of dry quicksand (for example, it looks dry). Maybe they were visionaries and seers.

One Response to “Quicksand”

  1. di Says:

    use it how? in your backyard? (“hey *person you don’t like*, come over and play in my sandpit!”?)

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