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On Maximally Dissipative Shock Waves in Nonlinear Elasticity

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Shock waves in nonlinearly elastic solids are, in general, dissipative. We study the following question: among all plane shock waves that can propagate with a given speed in a given one-dimensional nonlinearly elastic bar, which one—if any—maximizes the rate of dissipation? We find that the answer to this question depends strongly on the qualitative nature of the stress-strain relation characteristic of the given material. When maximally dissipative shocks do occur, they propagate according to a definite kinetic relation, which we characterize and illustrate with examples.

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