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Oobleck, Non-Newtonian Fluids, and Normal Stuff in Not-So-Normal Places

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Solids. Liquids. Gases. What defines these states of matter? And is there anything that fits into more than one of these categories?

In this Crash Course Kids video, host Sabrina Cruz reviews solids, liquids, and gases, and some of the properties that define them. She then introduces non-Newtonian or “non-normal” fluids, “substances that don’t behave like we expect them to. These fluids might look like one thing, but they behave like another.”

oobleck recipe
Oobleck, a mixture of cornstarch and water, provides a great example of how this works. Squeeze it and it forms a solid. Let it go, and it flows like a liquid. She explains:

“Non-Newtonian fluids flow at a different rate, depending on how much force or pressure is applied to them…

“So if an object’s viscosity, or flow rate, is not constant, or changes depending on the pressure applied to it, it’s a Non-Newtonian fluid. Which means, yes, some materials can fit into more than just one state of matter.

So what happens to “normal” fluids, like water, in extreme environments?

“How would this water and its properties change, say, at the top of a very tall mountain? Or, even in space?”

heating water on Mount Everest
In colder temperatures or low to no-pressure environments, water’s properties, like its boiling point, can change a lot. Learn more with Crash Course Kids’ Normal Stuff in Not-So-Normal Places next:


Watch more Crash Course Kids on YouTube.

And don’t miss these related videos on TKSST:
β€’ The science of oobleck
β€’ Why is ketchup so hard to pour?
β€’Β A solid, liquid, & gas at the same time: The Triple Point
β€’Β What is fire? Is it a solid, a liquid, or a gas?

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