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Non-linear dynamic intertwining of rods with self-contact. (English) Zbl 1203.74081
Summary: Twisted marine cables on the sea floor can form highly contorted three-dimensional loops that resemble tangles. Such tangles or ‘hockles’ are topologically equivalent to the plectomenes that form in supercoiled DNA molecules. The dynamic evolution of these intertwined loops is studied herein using a computational rod model that explicitly accounts for dynamic self-contact. Numerical solutions are presented for an illustrative example of a long rod subjected to increasing twist at one end. The solutions reveal the dynamic evolution of the rod from an initially straight state, through a buckled state in the approximate form of a helix, through the dynamic collapse of this helix into a near-planar loop with one site of self-contact, and the subsequent intertwining of this loop with multiple sites of self-contact. This evolution is controlled by the dynamic conversion of torsional strain energy to bending strain energy or, alternatively, by the dynamic conversion of twist (Tw) to writhe (Wr).

74K10 Rods (beams, columns, shafts, arches, rings, etc.)
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