Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Corn Starch Solution

This first part is for people who have never experienced the magic of a corn starch solution. You should try this right now: put a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch in a bowl and slowly mix in some water. You'll get a solution that behaves like a liquid as long as it's not under pressure. Stir it too quickly, though, and the long starch molecules bind together. You'll actually "crack" the liquid. If you keep pressure on it, you can form it into a ball that you can hold in your hands, but it will instantly melt if you stop abusing it. It's a very weird material, and it's a science experiment that's totally worth the five cents it costs.

Ok, now that everyone's on the same page: go watch the video of 'vibrated shear thickening fluids' on the top of this page. By mechanically vibrating a solution of corn starch, the researchers keep it under constant stress, with totally counter-intuitive results. They can form holes in the liquid, and can also get it to form self-replicating and evil-looking 'fingers'.

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At 5:11 PM, November 17, 2005, Blogger IvyMike said...

Stop stealing stuff from me, BoingBoing!.


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