Archive for the ‘Physics Experiments’ Category

Non-Newtonian Fluid: Oobleck

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

One of the things I enjoy doing every once in a while is surfing the video sharing sites for various topics, including physics. Last night I came across something I had never heard of or seen before – Oobleck – or at least Dr. Seuss’ version of a non-Newtonian fluid. What the heck am I talking about you ask?… Take a container, add about 1 cup of corn starch, and slowly mix in about half a cup of water… then have fun with this very simple example of a fluid that can change its viscosity depending on how much pressure or stress gets put on it… in other words, watch it change from a liquid to a solid and back to a liquid, right before your eyes. I played with this stuff for about an hour last night:

A few things I noticed… over time it seems as though the water that’s in the mixture evaporates – I’m only guessing this because when I played with small amounts of it for a while, it stayed solidified longer. If it starts to solidify a little too much, you can revive the mixture by adding in just a little more water. If it sits for an extended period of time (say over night or a few hours) the water tends to rise to the top, while the corn starch falls to the botttom – the mixture will come back to life however with just a few good stirs.

I want to try and figure out a way to add a vibration to this as some of the videos I came across last night showed examples of what happens to this stuff when you do exactly that. The peaks and valleys that get formed almost look surreal.