Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sweet Dreams are Made of Granular Packings (and Who am I to Disagree?)

On Friday morning, I had a strange dream dream. It included an ice-cream parlor, which was rumored to be wild and crazy. I backtracked to this parlor after leaving my friends in our hotel. The parlor had two flavors named after one of my Oxford colleagues (though I decided in my dream that it must be a coincidence), and their method of choosing mix-ins --- which were required to come with the ice cream (one couldn't opt out) were based on which part of their large vat with a mixture toppings had the largest local packing density (and one had no choice in the algorithm either). That's right: granular packings are now officially showing up in my dreams.

There were some other parts as well, but that was the most vivid. Clearly, I need to get some ice cream --- though I still don't feel well enough to do that (I've been really sick with the flu for a week). I also need to work on reviewing a paper on granular force chains (which is on my desk) and finishing up a new paper of my own on granular force chains.

As Matt Sullivan reminded me on Facebook, some candies have been used to study granular packings. Given that things like M&Ms and the other things were all mixed together in one container, I think the dream store's idea was that the property of particular items having a higher local packing fraction than others was going to systematically make specific items show up more often among the mix-ins. I also suspect that having seen that project before had an influence on some of the particulars of my dream.

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