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## Statistical mechanics of static granular media |

`Granular materials are collections of many particles interacting via pairwise forces, ` such as in liquids and gases. They occur in a number of industrial applications (food, pharmaceutical, construction) and in a number of geophysical phenomena (earthquakes, avalanches).
`Despite their importance, at the present time there is no established theoretical framework ` from which to investigate their properties. Theories commonly used to investigate thermal systems fail in describing granular systems, because of the peculiarities of the interaction between granulates:
`- Dissipation: energy is lost in the collision between grains. ` `- Absence of Brownian motion: granulates are so large and massive that thermal motion ` ` is negligible.` `- Static friction: there are tangential (history dependent) forces.`
`Almost 20 years ago, S.F. Edwards expressed the fascinating perspective that granular ` systems at rest have a statistical mechanics of their own, different from that of Maxwell, Boltzmann, and Gibbs. This theory would allow one to describe static granular systems via a few thermodynamic parameters, as well as to study their properties by solving a granular partition function.
`- Is this or a similar statistical mechanics approach really possible? ` `- What are the corresponding equilibrium states? ` `- What is the correct underlying equilibrium distribution? ` `- How many thermodynamic parameters are needed?`
`The aim of this workshop is to explore these questions, establishing prospects and boundaries ` `of a statistical mechanics approach to granular media.`
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