My coworker was telling me that when he plants seeds on his farm, he puts them all in a large container on the tractor and after a period of just driving, the seeds are more densely packed than when he started. This is presumably due to the vibration of the tractor moving the seeds to a more stable equilibrium.
I was wondering if people have studied how small, repeated perturbations to a system could result in optimal or near-optimal packings. It seems like although this would probably not produce the optimal packing in most cases, repeated simulation could at least give a good heuristic on what a "good" packing would look like. I know, for example, if I have a container of marbles and I want them all to sit nicely, I typically just jostle it a couple times until it settles.
Are there interesting results here or cool papers to read?
Put in a different way, I guess I am asking what the expected density of a packing is after random, physics-respecting perturbations of the objects/container. Still vague, I know, but humor me.
I noticed this question: Density of randomly packing a box
Which seems related but instead of jamming stuff into a box, I'm randomly perturbing the things in the box to try to get a better packing. Maybe these are equivalent. Any insight is appreciated.