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Better sandcastles: the angle of repose

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My story, The Empty Quarter was inspired by the concept of the angle of repose. The angle of repose is a kind of tipping point. It's the highest slope that the pile can form without becoming unstable and beginning to slide, a point of balance. It's the reason why wet sand makes better sandcastles than dry sand — it has a much higher angle of repose. Image: Sandcastle, Dover Castle (cropped), Gaius Cornelius via Wikimedia, Creative Commons licence   Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International  ] [Read more about the science at  Wikipedia  ] What if one of the contaminants in sand was an alien species? What if, as a result, the sand dunes towered upwards at angles impossible back on Earth? In my story, the steep dunes cause an accident which is a turning point, a tipping point, for the people involved. Just like the angle of repose is a tipping point. But there's a second tipping point in my story, not for individuals but for the culture of the human colonists on my