I only just discovered Sketchyphysics, a physics engine plugin for Google Sketchup. It’s quite good as you can see from my video of a Rocksolver wall being tested to destruction on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XcMNKrnByY. The sequence below shows a few frames from the video.
By following the Rocksolver plan I built the wall out of real rocks in the real world then built the same wall from virtual rocks in Sketchup. Behind the Sketchup rock wall I placed a container partly full of loose, small objects to simulate the granular material behind a retaining wall. I then pushed the loose material into the wall to make it fall over. It’s an empirical test to see how well the virtual structure mimics a real structure and it looks like it does a reasonable job. You can see a video of a real drystone retaining wall being tested to destruction at the University of Bath web site http://www.bath.ac.uk/ace/research/cicm/structural-masonry/dry-stone-retaining-walls.html
Further work will include using more analytical tools such as discrete element modeling to test the strength and stability of Rocksolver structures. I haven’t used it yet but the Virtual Geoscience Simulation Tools (VGeST) application looks promising. It’s here http://vgest.net/.
If you’d like to download the virtual wall and play with in Sketchup you’ll find it in Google’s 3dwarehouse in the Intresto collection.
I’m looking forward to building more structures in the virtual world then knocking them down. Is it just me or is there something fundamentally enjoyable about breaking stuff?