Eroding Metal with very small forces

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  • Thread starter kolleamm
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  • #1
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Consider we have an iron piece. If we could somehow tap on the iron with our finger for a very long long time, I mean millions of years, would it ever be able to make a dent?
 

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  • #2
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Yes. Assuming your finger stays healthy and regenerates to keep tapping. Every tap pushes some iron atoms to the side.

You might want to do that in a water and oxygen-free environment, otherwise it will rust way before you see any effect from tapping.
 
  • #3
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Rocks in streams are smooth because the flowing water gradually wears them away.
 
  • #4
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True but I remember reading something about iron being able to resist infinite cycles of deformation if they are small enough. It was on the topic of elastic limit.
 
  • #5
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Infinite for all practical purposes, not actually infinite.
On extremely long timescales, the iron will sublimate atom by atom if nothing else destroys it before.
 
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  • #6
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Thanks for the answer. That makes sense.
 

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