The statistical properties of failure are studied in a fiber bundle model with thermal noise. We show that the macroscopic failure is produced by a thermal activation of microcracks. Most importantly, the effective temperature of the system is amplified by the spatial disorder (heterogeneity) of the fiber bundle. The case of a time-dependent force and the validity of the Kaiser effects are also discussed. These results can give more insight to the recent experimental observations on thermally activated crack and can be useful to study the failure of electrical networks. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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