H. Singh and J. A. Hanna
Picking up, laying down, colliding, rolling, and peeling are partial-contact interactions involving moving discontinuities. We examine the balances of momentum and energy across a moving discontinuity in a string, with allowance for injection or dissipation by singular supplies. We split the energy dissipation according to its invariance properties, discuss analogies with systems of particles and connections with the literature on shocks and phase transition fronts in various bodies, and derive a compatibility relation between supplies of momentum and translation-invariant energy. For a moving contact discontinuity between a string and a smooth rigid plane in the presence of gravity, we find a surprising asymmetry between the processes of picking up and laying down, such that steady-state kinks in geometry and associated jumps in tension are not admissible during pick-up. This prediction is consistent with experimental observations.