Experiment with tennis balls to predict avalanches

Scientists were able to count the number of behaviors of 128 tennis balls poured out of one box. This seemingly strange discovery, made in the course of research by the University of Cambridge, will one day help predict avalanches.

The number of ball placement options is amazing - 1 followed by 250 zeros. According to scientists, this number exceeds the number of particles in the universe. The experiment used a computer model to simulate a box of balls, first at rest, and then after a push that set them in motion.

Calculations with the help of a powerful computer took hundreds of hours, which allowed researchers to calculate the value of "configuration entropy" - a certain state of disordered particles in the system. Having solved this problem, in the future, people will be able to predict, for example, avalanches and the movement of sand dunes. One of the participants in the experiment, Stefano Martiniani, evaluating its result, noted with satisfaction:

“Bulk materials are second only to water in terms of their mobility. The shape of the Earth's surface largely depends on their behavior. Our studies will make it possible to predict avalanches and the onset of deserts, which will help reduce the associated negative consequences. At first it seemed to us that such a task was unsolvable, but we did it. "