Thursday, May 4, 2017

Quicksand is complicated stuff. It’s typically a mixture made up...

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Quicksand is complicated stuff. It’s typically a mixture made up of sand, clay, and water. To get those ingredients into a proper quicksand mixture, you have to liquefy the particles by saturating the spaces between them with water, as the jumping tourists in the top animation are doing. (That’s not to say that you can’t just find a patch of quicksand - just that something has to have pumped that area full of water first.)

If you end up in quicksand, don’t panic. Quicksand is denser than a human, which means that, at the worst, you won’t sink in much further than your waist (middle image). It’s tough to move once you sink because your weight has squeezed a lot of the water out from between the sand and clay particles, thereby drastically increasing the viscosity. To get out, try putting weight on one leg and wiggling the other back and forth (bottom image). This lets water back in the mixture and hopefully lets you free that leg. Once one leg is free, try to kneel on it and work the other leg out. (Image credits: making quicksand - T. L. Nguyen, source; stuck - National Geographic, source; escape - Tech Insider, source; research credit: G. Evans et al., A. Khaldoun et al.)

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