Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dispatches from the Dirt Lab #2: Building Better Sandcastles

It's getting toward the end of April - and while it's still snowing around here, summer (and time at the beach) is drawing close. In this episode, I talk about why sandcastles stand up in the first place, and how you can make them even stronger.

Here's a direct link for you.
Dispatches from the Dirt Lab #2: Building Better Sandcastles from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.

The idea of reinforcing sandcastles occurred to me while I was teaching about "geotextiles." These materials are used to add strength to soils for geo-engineering projects like roads, embankments, and retaining walls.

And I have a question sent to me by a visitor. It involves robots, basements, and digging. I'm looking forward to putting an answer together.

UPDATE: The video has been picked up by a few people - and while I try not to read comments on big aggregator sites, a few people have made some good suggestions:

  • You should definitely remove anything you bring to the beach when you're done building the sandcastles. Pack out what you pack in.

  • If you are interested in a more biodegradable option, dry grasses woven together, or seaweed would have a similar effect. Ancient builders used woven grass mats to hold their mud brick structures together, so it's not like this hasn't been done before.

  • If you are building your sandcastles this way, you are indeed "cheating" in the sense that a "true" sandcastle is only held together by sand and water. But I see no ethical dilemma in using this technique if you are going for strength and showing off. If you are competing with others, it's probably against the rules.

  • 1 comment:

    1. Hey, just wanted to say I really enjoyed this video. The documentation using the high speed camera was great. The explanation was superb. The science behind it was very clear, and I just wanted to say thanks. I take it you aren't a social media whore, but I'll follow ya anyway!