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A.A. Griffith: The phenomena of rupture and flow in solids
GRIFFITH AA, The phenomena of rupture and flow in solids. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Sereis A, 221:163-198, 1921.
This is the foundational paper of fracture mechanics, and foreshadows much of the subsequent development. I urge all my students to start reading it when they take the course of fracture mechanics, and return to it for illumination later in their careers. In class, I spend several lectures just talking about this paper, uncluttered by the later refinements.
In this paper, Griffith proposed his theory, described his experiments, speculated about molecular basis and size effects. For all its content, the paper is very readable, and has a totally modern outlook.
His way of treating fracture also gives a first clear example of configurational force, and of competition between elastic and surface energy.
A.A. Griffith (1893-1963)