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Question:
When opening a can of mixed nuts, why are the largest and heaviest always on top?



Replies:
At first, this inversion of the larger components "rising" to the top seems counter-intuitive. The reason for this is a factor that is not so important in fluids, but is important in granular media. The large "chunks" form an open cell rigid structure. The smaller components can "rattle around" and fall through the spaces in the open cells between the larger immobilized components. Eventually with shaking it is the smaller particles that "sink" to the bottom, in between the spaces formed by the larger granules.

Vince Calder



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