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Physicists work out exactly when fruit display will come tumbling down


Computer simulations reveal the precise conditions when removing an orange from a display would cause a fruit avalanche



Physics



19 June 2022

Fruit display in a street market

A fruit avalanche could happen at any moment

Giancarlo Liguori / Alamy Stock Photo

How many oranges can you remove from an angled fruit display before they all tumble down in a fruit avalanche? For 2370 of them, at an angle of 20 degrees with respect to the horizontal, the answer is 190 oranges.

This is one of the results of a series of simulations to work out under what conditions a fruit display will come tumbling down, run by Pablo Gutierrez at O’Higgins University in Chile and his team. “I hear colleagues talk about avalanches …



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