Science Behind Sand Castle Building

It has never been necessary to know the science behind sand castle building especially when you, as a child, went out there to play on the sand. Even when you take your children or play out on the beach with your friends, every time you build a sand castle, you don't really study for it, do you? However, there is a very interesting science behind sand castle building, something that can really make a huge difference to the way you approach this hobby.

For many people, the science behind sand castle building is a thought that probably never crossed their mind. They just go out there and have fun in the sand, which is how it should be if you are pursuing your hobby. You can just head out onto the beach with a pail and a shovel and start building sand castles, or you can start reading about it a bit more and increase your knowledge about the science behind sand castle building so that your structures are more stable and you can take your hobby into the realm of professional sand castle building.

More than Water and Sand - Sand Castle Building

From the outset, it seems like a play of water and sand, sprinkled with your imagination and shaped by the skill of your hands. The tools are quite simple and the process of making sand castles is also equally simple. That said, the science behind sand castle building has fascinated many scientists and even space research institutions, like NASA, into studying more about this unique combination of sand and water.

The fact is that sand is a tiny particle that has millions and billions of sharp edges invisible to the naked eye. These particles constant brush against each other and the strength of a combination of these particles, which is what a sand castle effectively is, depends entirely on how these grains interact with each other.

The process of adding water to sand ensures that there is a bridge created between individual grains of sand, by water, which is something that holds those grains of sand together. This water-bridge has a certain degree of strength due to something called surface tension. That is the same force that allows insects to walk on the surface of water without falling through and drowning.

The science behind sand castle building depends mainly on this little natural force that is formed when you keep pouring water into sand and pack it in tightly. The water keeps filling the empty spaces between the grains. When this water is flowing, like under a tap, these bridges are destroyed by the force of flowing water, therefore, the sand also flows freely. Alternately, when the sand is too dry, the water forming the bridges evaporates, leaving behind loose sand that isn't connected to each other.

Sand Castle Building in Space

To study the science behind sand castle building, NASA decided to conduct an experiment into understanding the qualities of sand. This meant, taking it into space and conducting experiments upon it in various situations where gravity wouldn't play any role in its reactions.

Sand has been known to have two distinct properties - that of being a granular substance that flows like a liquid & can be poured out as well as that of being a completely solid substance that, on a beach, you can even walk on without worrying about slipping or falling through it.

Just like the science behind sand castle building, understanding the properties of sand can really help in the construction industry where a substance that flows as easily as sand does, and that has the strength of a structure that sand provides once combined with water, can change the way we look at the entire industry. What's more, it can even be used in the food processing industry where the texture of processed food can be changed by mere addition of a liquid to change it from liquid state to solid state, or vice versa, at the blink of an eye.

How does all this help you build better sand castles? Well, frankly it doesn't but the fact that you know that you are working with a special substance that, even though is relatively wide spread around you, especially when you are out in the beach, might be something that you can use to make your hobby a lot more interesting for you.

What's more, knowing that sand has these special properties when mixed with water will also help you understand how to manipulate the consistency of your sand-water mix and make sure that your sand castles are better built than ever before. If knowing that thanks to knowing the science behind sand castle building doesn't help, then what does?

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