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How to build the perfect sandcastle

London, Fri, 03 Aug 2012 ANI

London, Aug 3 (ANI): To build your perfect sandcastle, ditch your bucket and spade, and use your hands instead, scientists suggest.

Physicists who have studied the science of sandcastles insist that our hands are the best tools for making them.

While buckets and spades are useful for collecting sand, they could be hindering the construction of your dream castle.

This is so because neither is ideal for producing the highly compacted sand that is crucial for providing the structures strength.

The researchers carried out a number of experiments on how to construct the perfect sandcastle, before finally coming to the conclusion that hands are the best tools.

They started by looking at how much water is needed to produce a one that will not collapse from being too soggy or crumble from being too dry.

"We used some fancy instruments but effectively we put some sand in a cup and inserted a spoon and started to twist the sands a bit and measured how hard it was to twist," the Daily Mail quoted Physicist Peder Moller, as saying.

"We found that one bucket of water to 50 buckets of sand gave the highest strength," he said.

At this ratio, the water is able to form strong bridges between the sand grains.

The experiments showed that the size of the sand grains had little effect on the overall result.

This is where the researchers advice to leave buckets and spades.

Dr Moller, of the Laboratoire de Physique Statistique de ENS in Paris, said that while it is easy to compress sand in a bucket, the structure becomes much looser on tipping out.

And thumping the sand with a spade gives an uneven result.

"Buckets and spades can be great for larger constructions," Dr Moller said.

"But compacting with a spade is not optimal since it tends to introduce fractures in the sand's structure rather than compact it. Ideally I would use spades and buckets to build a mound that has all the height of your dream castle while compacting (with hand) during piling.

"Then finally carve away the residual sand that hides the magnificent castle inside," Dr Moller said.

The scientists also calculated the maximum height for cylindrical sandcastles with bases of various sizes.

They suggest that to build a sandcastle twice as high as one you've made already, you need to make the base roughly three times wider.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports. (ANI)

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