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The science of sandcastles - how to build the best beach fort ever

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Science unlocks the secret to the best sandcastles ever, and then builds a robot that does it better.

We've all been there, on the beach, looking at our sad, wet, dilapidated sand castle and wondering what went wrong. Science has the answer, of course.

New research suggests that the less water you have in your sand castle the better. The New York Times reports:

A sand castle is made of a network of sand grains glued together by very thin bridges of water. Without any water, sand flows; a perfectly dry sand castle would collapse into a heap. Too much water, on the other hand, creates sand soup.

The researchers on this study from the University of Amsterdam built columns of sand in their lab, trying to make them as thin and as tall as possible before they fell down.

But if you're sitting on your hands and knees at the beach, trying to mold your sand by hand, you're destined to fall behind this robot that builds sand castles. It's called the Stone Spray Robot. Here's how it works, according to Geek.com:

What the Stone Spray does is combine soil/sand with a liquid to form a jet spray that can be used to 3D print structures. Once formed, they dry to a permanent sculpture. In the video above you see the robot using sand along with the liquid mix to create a structure on a beach, but the robot can be positioned anywhere and create your structure of choice on any surface.

The castles we get here aren't your standard, turreted constructions. Instead they've built more organic looking net-like structures. Here's what it looks like in action:

Stone Spray Project from Stone Spray on Vimeo.

So as the summer winds down, and you feel as though you're perfecting your water to sand ratio, just remember. Even when it comes to sand castle building, robots will eventually do it better.

Via: NYT, Geek.com

Image: KenC1983

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Rose Eveleth

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Rose Eveleth is a freelance writer, producer and designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, OnEarth, Discover, New York Times, Story Collider and Radiolab. She holds degrees from the University of California, San Diego and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure