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B Eroding Metal with very small forces

  1. May 15, 2016 #1
    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?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2016 #2

    mfb

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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.
     
  4. May 16, 2016 #3
    Rocks in streams are smooth because the flowing water gradually wears them away.
     
  5. May 17, 2016 #4
    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.
     
  6. May 17, 2016 #5

    mfb

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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.
     
  7. May 17, 2016 #6
    Thanks for the answer. That makes sense.
     
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