Sandcastles have captivated beachgoers of all ages for generations, but have you ever wondered how these seemingly delicate structures stand tall against the waves? Join us as we uncover the science behind creating sturdy sandcastles.
The Power of Water Bridges
Sand gains its strength through the addition of water. When a little water mixes with dry sand, it adheres to the surface of the sand grains, forming tiny bridges where the grains meet. These water bridges, governed by surface tension, create a suction-like force that pulls the sand grains together. Adequate space for air between them is essential, allowing water bridges to form and reinforcing the sandcastle’s structure.
The Perfect Recipe for a Resilient Sandcastle
To achieve the ideal sandcastle, experts recommend a specific mixture – one part water for every eight parts of dry sand. This combination provides the optimal amount of moisture to form the water bridges. Builders can find sand with the correct moisture levels near the tide line at the beach, where it is visibly wet. Angular sand grains further enhance stability by interlocking closely and increasing the impact of water surface tension.
Adding Clay for Long-Lasting Sandcastles
Professional sandcastle builders often incorporate a small fraction of clay into the sand to enhance longevity. Clay particles, smaller than sand grains, fit within the pores between the larger grains, creating more water bridges and a sturdier structure. The process of compressing wet sand also aids in interlocking angular gains and increasing the overall strength of sandcastles.
The Role of Salt
While sandcastles will eventually collapse, salt from seawater plays a surprising role in preserving them. As seawater evaporates, salt crystals form, stabilizing the structure. However, these sandy structures remain delicate and susceptible to cracking. Nevertheless, the magic of sandcastle-building lies in understanding the science behind the perfect sand, water, and air mixture that brings these creations to life.
Scientists have made a remarkable discovery using artificial intelligence – or AI – in Peru’s Nazca Desert. Utilizing AI and other advanced technology, researchers have identified three previously unknown Nazca Lines figures, which were etched into the desert floor over 2,000 years ago.
AI Finds More Nazca Geoglyphs
The largest of the newly found geoglyphs is a massive pair of legs, spanning an impressive 250 feet (77 meters) in width. Additionally, a fish measuring 62 feet (19 meters) across and a bird measuring 56 feet (17 meters) wide were also discovered. This comes after scientists previously employed the same AI method to uncover a humanoid figure measuring around 13 feet (4 meters) in length and 6.5 feet (2 meters) in width, as announced in 2019.
Geoglyphs are intricate designs etched into the surface of the Nazca Desert. By removing dark stones to reveal the light-colored sand beneath, these ancient figures come to life. More than 350 geoglyphs have now been rediscovered, including depictions of hummingbirds, monkeys, whales, spiders, flowers, and geometric patterns. While the majority of these figures are found in the Nazca Desert, similar designs can be found in other parts of Peru. Archaeologists believe that they were created between 400 B.C. and 650 A.D.
The Nazca Lines Are Old
The exact purpose of the Nazca Lines has puzzled researchers for years. However, it is now widely believed that these geoglyphs served as pathways for ceremonial processions along the outlines of the figures. The recent study, led by Masato Sakai, a professor of anthropology and archaeology at Yamagata University in Japan, utilized various technologies such as satellite imagery, aerial photography, scanning lidar, and drone photography to search for Nazca geoglyphs.
The breakthrough in discovering the new figures came when the researchers employed deep learning AI. By training the AI system with data from just 21 known Nazca geoglyphs divided into elements, the deep-learning system could identify parts of geoglyphs. This method proved to be 21 times faster than a trained archaeologist, enabling the team to locate and verify the existence of the newly discovered geoglyphs on-site.
The significance of these findings lies in the preservation and protection of the geoglyphs. Many of these ancient designs are at risk of destruction.