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March 18th, 2009

Oobleckpalooza bonus video of the week: Oobleck explained, sorta

Published on March 18th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

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The staff at Science Friday, too, senses the masses growing interest in all things oobleck and is shamelessly trying to ignore this blogs leadership efforts and elbow us out of the way. SciFri does trump us by getting two experts, University of Michigan’s Robert Deegan and University of Texas’ Harry Swinney, to unravel what is going on with dancing oobleck.

Says Deegan: “It’s really astonishing. Swinney: “It is. It’s really remarkable.” Deegan: “Somehow, these particles are combining and they are formng some structure.”

Hmm. . .  that’s not exactly graduate level physics, but they do their best to provide a high-level explanation of what’s going on at times with this stuff. And they actually give a plausible explanation of why multiple, long-lasting holes can be made in the fluid exposed to standing waves.

But, what about those scary dancing fingers? Says Swinney: “Ah, the fingers . . . are more subtle.That’s something we don’t understand as well.”

Score: Oobleck 1, physicists 0.

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3 Responses to Oobleckpalooza bonus video of the week: Oobleck explained, sorta

  1. dalila says:

    what is the purpose making the obleck..please help me…

  2. Peter Wray says:

    Ceramics is one area of material science, and oobleck/cornstarch demonstrations have been used for years to provide an introduction to materials science in academic settings ranging from primary school to college level. It’s an easy and fun way to begin to discuss the mysteries of atomic and molecular interactions and the chemistry, physics and math used to unravel these mysteries. Oobleck demonstrations has remained popular both for sentimental reasons (most material scientists still can recall seeing their first cornstarch demonstratin)and scientific ones (as the video and interview reveals, scientists are still struggling to understand and explain oobleck’s properties).

  3. G.Mayer says:

    So, tell me how this may be useful to ceramics……there are lots of interesting things that have been observed by physicists, chemists, etc., but the key question for materials scientists, is how it could be useful.

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