Non-Newtownian Fluids

by Ayana Cochran

Non-Newtonian fluids are tricky to deal with. They don’t act like regular states of matter. They have properties of liquids and solids. A liquid is a state of matter in which a substance exhibits a characteristic readiness to flow. Non-Newtonians do that; they flow. When they are still, it looks and feels like a liquid. When pressure is applied, i.e hitting, it starts to performs like a solid. A solid is of definite shape and volume. The molecules tighten up. I think that’s really awesome to have a liquid and solid at the same time. Now, within the non-Newtonian category we have many types of fluids. There’s Oobleck, chilled caramel ice cream topping, and liquid armor. Most people have interacted with a non-Newtonian, but never really thought about it’s properties and how it reacts. Even something as simple as ketchup, something we see and eat everyday, is non-Newtonian. Once you understand all the different properties of non-Newtonian fluids, then you could start finding more.

Oobleck is a really simple substance. You can make it out of cornstarch and water. It’s the basic properties of a non-Newtonian: liquid when still, solid when pressure is applied. It’s not complicated at all. Oobleck can be really great entertainment. There are so many videos on YouTube of people playing with Oobleck. People filling up kiddie pools with the substance. It’s really interesting to see people’s faces when they get stuck in a pool of Oobleck. Most people don’t realize what’s happening when they’re running and suddenly get stuck. It’s just that the pressure and jerk of the running. As soon as they stop, the constant force is gone and now they’re sinking slowly. But they soon find out they can’t rip their foot out. Weird isn’t it? The jerking movement that was applied at the top still applies to the middle and the bottom of the Oobleck, except the force is being applied upwards instead of downwards. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Besides being great entertainment, Oobleck can be really helpful. Oobleck is a really cool thing to mess with and it could possibly have many uses. You know that America has a problem with potholes. I once read somewhere that cities are thinking about putting bags of oobleck in the potholes until workers are able to fill them. That idea could save so many cars from falling apart and it’s very easy to replenish. Another helpful non-Newtonian is liquid armour. There’s buzz about replacing a lot of the metal in bulletproof vests with sheets of liquid armour. It’s said to be light and easy for police to move around in. There are flaws with both of these plans, though. The bags of Oobleck in the pot holes could burst from improper care. Then, the liquid armour can’t stop a person from getting stabbed.

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