They discover a ‘hidden’ mathematical law in ripples of sand all over the Earth


13 Jan 2022 14:23 GMT

The researchers hope that their discovery may help in the future to explain the formation of some mysterious sand ripples recently observed on Mars.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists has found evidence of a “hidden” mathematical law in sand ripples, after analyzing a large sample of megawave fields across the Earth, reported the University of Leipzig in Germany.

Megawaves are ripples of sand whose size is between that of ordinary beach waves (centimeters) and that of dunes (ten to one hundred meters). They are found both on Earth and on Mars. As for its composition, it consists of a unique mixture of coarse and fine grains. “It always looks similar, but it’s never identical due to turbulent winds,” said one of the study’s authors, Professor Klaus-Dieter Kroy of the University of Leipzig.

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The work, published in the journal Nature Communications, showed that, by dividing the diameter of the coarsest grains in the mixture by the diameter of the smallest, a similar number is always obtained as a result, something that had never been seen in several decades of research.

This number could be used to more reliably decide which category the sand waves that are discovered belong to and to know the grain transport process by which they were formed.

The researchers also hope that their finding could help in the future to better explain the formation of some new and mysterious sand ripples recently observed on Mars or in fossils and remote places on our planet.

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