cultivate culture

The cornstarch monster strikes again!
February 6, 2008, 4:47 pm
Filed under: physics

Check out my favorite encounter with the cornstarch monster, brought to you by the fun science guys at the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics at the University of Texas at Austin.

They don’t give much background so here’s a short primer:

When we think of liquid, we think of fluidity. In science, that’s called vicosity, or how much resistence that liquid puts up against a force, or stress on it. The viscosity of most liquids doesn’t change when we apply a stress on them (like sticking our fingers in). In other words, the relation between the stress that we apply and the strain (or deformation) that the liquid does, is proportional. We push a bit; it gives a bit. We push alot; it gives alot. We call these Newtonian liquids. (Man, that guy is everywhere.)

Okay, but what if it’s not Newtonian? That means that the viscosity changes as we apply a stress to the liquid…so you can get more resistance the more force you apply.

So…Could you turn a liquid into a solid simply by trying to stick your finger in it? …well, sort of.

A thick mixture of cornstarch and water is a non-Newtonian liquid, and it can do some pretty crazy things. Once again, the best part is the end:

Click here to learn how make your own cornstarch monster from a coffee can and old computer speakers. Add colouring, and presto! You’re fading the boundaries between art and science! A person of the new millenia you are!


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