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PHYSICAL REVIEW E 80 061304 2009 Experimental demonstration of nonuniform frequency distributions of granular packings 1 Guo Jie Gao 1 Jerzy Blawzdziewicz 1 2 Corey S O Hern 1 2 and Mark Shattuck3 Department of Mechanical Engineering Yale University New Haven Connecticut 06520 8286 USA 2 Department of Physics Yale University New Haven Connecticut 06520 8120 USA 3 Benjamin Levich Institute and Physics Department The City College of the City University of New York New York New York 10031 USA Received 28 March 2009 revised manuscript received 3 September 2009 published 17 December 2009 We developed an experimental method to generate mechanically stable MS packings of frictionless disks and performed coordinated experiments and simulations to characterize MS packings in small systems For a given system geometry MS packings occur as discrete well separated points in configuration space with probabilities that vary by many orders of magnitude and are robust with respect to the packing preparation Over a continuous range of system geometries MS packings occur as distinct geometrical families and only a small fraction of families are sampled via quasistatic dynamics These results suggest that the most frequent MS packings may dominate the structural and mechanical properties of dense granular media DOI 10 1103 PhysRevE 80 061304 PACS number s 83 80 Fg 61 43 j 05 20 y 64 70 kj Equilibrium statistical mechanics provides a powerful method to determine the macroscopic state of thermal systems by counting the number of microstates Several recent studies have applied similar methods to describe dense granular materials 1 4 Many of these have used Edwardsensemble descriptions which are based on an assumption that all static configurations of a granular system under a given set of macroscopic constraints are equally likely 5 Despite the fact that granular media are dissipative and require external driving forces not thermal fluctuations to explore configuration space there has been



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