The Awesome Effects of Vibration on Cornstarch Solution

The name Center for Nonlinear Dynamics, University of Texas at Austin makes me just think of the type of place that Dr. Manhattan would hang out. What is happening in this video of vibrating cornstarch solution is not that the Faraday waves retain or cause the holes. No, no! The really interesting thing is a phenomenon called “shear thickening.” I’ll let Wikipedia take over from here, with a little editing for clarity:

[Teh Awesome occurs] when closely packed particles [the cornstarch] are combined with enough liquid [good old water] to fill the gaps between them. At low velocities, the liquid acts as a lubricant, and the dilatant [cornstarch] flows easily. At higher velocities, the liquid is unable to fill the gaps created between particles [cornstarch], and friction greatly increases, causing an increase in viscosity.

Because viscosity increases, the cornstarch sticks together more. This means that it will not collapse and can resist the force of the water pushing in to collapse the hole. Neat!

Besides playing with corn starch, what else does Center for Nonlinear Dynamics do you ask?

Problems currently being examined include instabilities at fluid interfaces, dynamics of fluidized beds, spatial patterns and shock waves in granular flows, pattern formation in chemical reaction-diffusion systems, crack propagation in crystalline and amorphous materials, quantum chaos with ultra-cold atoms, nonlinear dynamics of bose condensates, general methods of laser cooling, viscoelasticity of actin networks, elastic properties of normal and pathological biological cells, and enhancement of neuronal growth.

Or, in layman terms, “Fucking Science, bitches!!” Speaking of which, here is a remix of the above video that just makes everything seem so much more cool.