Physical Review Letters ( IF 8.385 ) Pub Date : 2021-02-22 , DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.126.085501
Harish Charan; Alex Hansen; H. G. E. Hentschel; Itamar Procaccia

The rupture of a polymer chain maintained at temperature $T$ under fixed tension is prototypical to a wide array of systems failing under constant external stress and random perturbations. Past research focused on analytic and numerical studies of the mean rate of collapse of such a chain. Surprisingly, an analytic calculation of the probability distribution function (PDF) of collapse rates appears to be lacking. Since rare events of rapid collapse can be important and even catastrophic, we present here a theory of this distribution, with a stress on its tail of fast rates. We show that the tail of the PDF is a power law with a universal exponent that is theoretically determined. Extensive numerics validate the offered theory. Lessons pertaining to other problems of the same type are drawn.

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