Cornstarch & Water – Explained by Physicists


Heinrich Jaeger, William J. Friedman and Alicia Townsend Professor in Physics, and Scott Waitukaitis, a graduate student in the Physics department, have published a report in the July 12 issue of Nature on the process of impact-activated solidification that occurs when compressive forces are applied to fluid-grain suspensions. The two researchers conduct experiments with a mixture of cornstarch and water that is classified as a non-Newtonian liquid. Their work examines the strange behavior of the cornstarch-water liquid, which instantly changes into a solid within the area of impact. The behavior of non-Newtonian liquids has puzzled scientists for decades, and Waitukaitis and Jaeger’s report sheds new light on this longstanding problem in suspension science.

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