Griffith Cracks

by maggie

I have finally managed to pick up a book I ordered way back when I wrote this post. Not only that I’ve read most of it even though it’s full of words like diffusion-limited aggregation, dense-branching morphology and self similarity.

There is a whole chapter devoted to cracks and how they form. Reading it I realised why I have more than a vague feeling for plasticity, creep and fracture dynamics when I make the cuts in my poor tortured stone papers.
Back in the day I had three years of material science as part of an engineering degree. I learnt all about propagation of micro fractures though semi crystalline materials, failure modes and why annealing, quenching and tempering might be important in increasing minimum material strengths. TL:DR It was interesting at the time, but I thought I’d left my engineering practice long ago.
Reading Bell’s chapter I discovered that Griffith was an early material scientist and much more than a series of equations on a board. He and Gordon (his books are a must read) a generation later were working a time when no one quite understood why glass bottles smash but glass fibres don’t. Or why perfectly well designed ships and planes, suck or crashed for no apparent reason.
What do we learn from this? Have faith in your own knowledge and understanding on a subject. Keep being interested and learn new stuff. Education is a wonderful thing and you never know when it will come in handy.
Also go pick up your book orders before they get put on the general shelves!