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I was thinking and the following question came out:

how an object that is falling is simulated once it hits the ground?

Specifically, I would like to understand how one would be able to simulate the cracking of the object, and its consequent breakdown in several pieces.

As far as I understood, this topic is quite important in computer games, but I was wondering how this things are studied in physics.

One approach I recognized was the use of meshes and continuum physics. On the other hand, a N body problem where the particles were "glued" could also work.

Does anyone knows what are the principles of crack formation and object breakdown in this sense?

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In engineering there are two main mechanisms. One is brittle fracture and the other is ductile yielding. For the latter I will give the example of Von Misses Energy Distortion Theory and the former look at brittle fracture.

Other things to consider is elastic/plastic deformation, buckling, visco-elastic response, creep and contact indentation. All of those things deform the part from it's original shape.

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