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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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    $\begingroup$ Most computational research that I'm aware of into crack formation and propagation is performed at an atomic scale using molecular dynamics or some hybrid multiscale method that combines molecular simulation with ab initio methods. $\endgroup$
    – lemon
    Oct 27, 2016 at 13:33

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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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