Cracks are the major vehicle for material failure, and often exhibit rather complex dynamics. The laws that govern their motion have remained an object of constant study for nearly a century. The simplest kind of dynamic crack is a single crack that moves along a straight line. We first briefly review current understanding of this "simple" object. We then critically examine the assumptions of the classic, scale-free, theory of dynamic fracture, and note when it works and how it may fail if certain of these assumptions are relaxed. A number of examples is provided, where the introduction of physical scales into this scale-free theory profoundly affects both a crack's structure and the resulting dynamics.
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