Researchers Find How ‘Oobleck’ Works

The secret to understanding how oobleck — a Dr. Seuss-derived nickname for the combination of corn starch and water — works has finally been unraveled, a new Cornell study reports. As a non-Newtonian fluid, oobleck has properties of both liquids and solids. When stirred slowly, Oobleck behaves like a liquid, but when squeezed or punched, it suddenly solidifies. This phenomenon of increased fluid resistance, or viscosity, as more pressure is applied is called shear thickening and it occurs in suspensions, or mixtures of particles suspended in a liquid. Researchers at Cornell and the University of Edinburgh worked together to figure out the underlying mechanism in shear thickening.