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Force distributions in dense two-dimensional granular systems

Despite the highly uniform density of a random pack­ ing of noncohesive particles, photoelastic visualizations provide a striking evidence of the heterogeneous distribu­ tion of contact forces on a scale definitely larger than the typical particle size [1-3]. A quantitative characteriza­ tion of these distributions is relevant both to mechanical processing (compression, compaction, flow, grinding) and fundamental understanding (mesoscopic scales, instability thresholds) of granular media [4-7].