Cracks are the major vehicle for material failure and often exhibit rather complex dynamics. The laws that govern their motion have remained an object of constant study for nearly a century. The simplest kind of dynamic crack is a single crack that moves along a straight line. We first briefly review the current understanding of this “simple” object. We then critically examine the assumptions of the classic, scale-free theory of dynamic fracture and note when it works and how it may fail if certain assumptions are relaxed. Several examples are provided in which the introduction of physical scales into this scale-free theory profoundly affects both a crack's structure and the resulting dynamics.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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