Quantum Physics Division

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Urn model of separation of sand

A. Lipowski^{1,2}
,
M. Droz^{2}

^{1} Department of Physics, University of Genève, CH 1211 Genève 4, Switzerland

^{2} Department of Physics, A. Mickiewicz University, 61-614 Poznań, Poland

**Phys. Rev. E, 65, 031307 – 1-7 (2002)**

**DOI:** 10.1103/PhysRevE.65.031307

Abstract:

We introduce an urn model that describes spatial separation of sand. In this dynamical model, in a certain range of parameters spontaneous symmetry breaking takes place and equipartitioning of sand into two compartments is broken. The steady-state equation for an order parameter, a critical line, and the tricritical point on the phase diagram are found exactly. The master equation and the first-passage problem for the model are solved numerically and the results are used to locate first-order transitions. Exponential divergence of a certain characteristic time shows that the model can also exhibit very strong metastability. In certain cases characteristic time diverges as N^{z}, where N is the number of balls and z=1 / 2 (critical line), 2 / 3 (tricritical point), or 1 / 3 (limits of stability).

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