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Fracture mechanics, broadly speaking, represents knowledge of the influence of loading and geometry on fracture. Figure 1 shows the size range of significant events involved in the crack-extension process. Until the ion and electron cloud configuration shown schematically at the far left can be analyzed from wave mechanics, and the results integrated through ten orders of magnitude, it will be necessary to work with a series of different models, each appropriate to its own size range. Boundary conditions for each model are found from the next largest and next smallest scales. The smaller the size of the model from which we can integrate through larger sizes to obtain the fracture load for a given geometry, the broader the range of conditions which can be predicted or correlated from given experimental data. From whatever level we do start, it will be necessary to introduce test data to substitute for lack of knowledge (or cost of analysis) in the smaller regions.
Professor of mechanical engineering, Massachusetts Instititute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
Superintendent, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.,