When mud cracks, it doesn't crack all at once. If you could watch the process over time, you would see that the cracks are spaced widely at first, but gradually fill in closer and closer. Next time you're on a bus or in a theater, watch how people choose their seats. Like cracking mud, they spread out as far as possible and gradually pack in.
Is there any similarity between cracking and branching. Take a look at slime mold as it fills in spaces looking for food.
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