We present an experimental study of velocity statistics for a partial layer of inelastic colliding beads driven by a vertically oscillating boundary. Over a wide range of parameters (accelerations 3-8 times the gravitational acceleration), the probability distribution P(v) deviates measurably from a Gaussian for the two horizontal velocity components. It can be described by P(v) ~ exp(-|v/v_c|^1.5), in agreement with a recent theory. The characteristic velocity v_c is proportional to the peak velocity of the boundary. The granular temperature, defined as the mean square particle velocity, varies with particle density and exhibits a maximum at intermediate densities. On the other hand, for free cooling in the absence of excitation, we find an exponential velocity distribution. Finally, we examine the sharing of energy between particles of different mass. The more massive particles are found to have greater kinetic energy.
Measured trajectories of some white particle moving among dark particles. The container is vertically shaken at 100Hz and acceleration 5g. 546 frames are captured at 250 frames/s