Oobleck for Potholes

Oobleck for Potholes

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From AAAS ScienceNOW:

So-called non-Newtonian fluids are the stars of high school science demonstrations. In one example, an ooey-gooey batter made from corn starch and water oozes like a liquid when moved slowly. But punch it, or run across a giant puddle of it, and it becomes stiff like a solid. Pour it on top of a speaker cone, and the vibrations cause the fluid to stiffen and form strange tendril-like shapes. Now, a group of college students has figured out a new use for the strange stuff: filler for potholes.

Clever! The prototype, from a group Case Western Reserve University undergraduates, consists of a waterproof Kevlar-reinforced pouch filled with shear-thickening fluid that can be simply dropped into a pothole to effect a quick fix. Under its own weight, the fluid is Newtonian and flows to take the shape of its container (i.e. the pothole). But when a car drives over, it thickens in response and supports the weight. Apparently it works very well as a temporary fix, but questions remain about long-term and cold-weather performance.

[Thanks, Alan Dove!]

Silly Putty for Potholes


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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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