It’s funny that I would come across a story about quicksand a few days after watching Blazing Saddles, wondering if quicksand was really the way it’s always portrayed in movies. It always seemed difficult for me to imagine sand which could collapse quick enough to trap someone.
Discovery News is running an article on the physics of quicksand, and it’s interesting.
On the other hand, it loses this viscosity very quickly in response to stress. A moving object in the sand causes it to liquefy swiftly, as the sand heads towards the bottom and the upper layers become runny.
The settling sand then becomes so compact that it is impossible for material with the density of a human body to become completely submerged.
So an ensnared cowboy should take solace in that he won’t drown, the study suggests. On the other hand, he is likely to stay there for a long time, for even the most muscular help won’t get him out.
The dense sand so clumps around the lower limbs that just to haul out a foot requires a force of 100,000 Newtons, about the same as that needed to lift a medium-sized car.
Holy cow. The whole article is worth a read. (It’s brief.)
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