oobleck

Following on my posting about Shel Silverstein, on to another children’s book author, Dr. Seuss, this time through an article in NewScientist (print edition of April 20th): “Miracle mix looks like liquid but shatters like glass” by Lisa Grossman, beginning:

Walking on water is possible – just as long as it contains corn starch. Now it seems this miracle mixture, dubbed oobleck, can also shatter like glass. Knowing how and why could help guide its use in soft body armour and car suspensions.

Oobleck gets its name from the artificial gloop that falls from the sky in the Dr Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. It has a split personality because the corn starch exists as a solid suspended in liquid water. Gently poke real-life oobleck and your fingers easily slip through, but slap it and it suddenly stiffens.

On the book:

Bartholomew and the Oobleck is a 1949 book by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). It follows the adventures of a young boy named Bartholomew, who must rescue his kingdom from a sticky substance called “oobleck”. The book is a sequel of sorts to The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Unlike most of Geisel’s books, which are written in anapestic tetrameter, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, like its predecessor, is a prose work.

Geisel said he drew inspiration for the book from a conversation he overheard while stationed in Belgium during World War II. During a rainstorm, one of his fellow soldiers remarked, “Rain, always rain. Why can’t we have something different for a change?”

Oobleck is one of Geisel’s many lexical inventions.

And on non-Newtonian and Newtonian fluids:

A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose flow properties differ in any way from those of Newtonian fluids. Most commonly the viscosity (measure of a fluid’s ability to resist gradual deformation by shear or tensile stresses) of non-Newtonian fluids is dependent on shear rate or shear rate history. However, there are some non-Newtonian fluids with shear-independent viscosity, that nonetheless exhibit normal stress-differences or other non-Newtonian behaviour. Many salt solutions and molten polymers are non-Newtonian fluids, as are many commonly found substances such as ketchup, custard, toothpaste, starch suspensions, paint, blood, and shampoo. In a Newtonian fluid, the relation between the shear stress and the shear rate is linear, passing through the origin, the constant of proportionality being the coefficient of viscosity. In a non-Newtonian fluid, the relation between the shear stress and the shear rate is different, and can even be time-dependent. Therefore, a constant coefficient of viscosity cannot be defined.

 

One Response to “oobleck”

  1. John Lawler Says:

    Don’t forget Theater Oobleck in Chicago, a non-Newtonian company that’s been surfing avant-garde humor for 25 years. And which was named specifically after the Seuss book.

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