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Strange Liquids

Liquid is one of the states of matter, and viscosity is a property of liquid. Some liquids display strange behaviour because their viscosity makes them flow differently to ‘normal’ liquids.

When we think of a liquid, we tend to think of something like water. When you pour the liquid into a cup, it takes on the shape of the container. This is one of a liquid’s properties.

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Another property of a liquid is its viscosity – how easily it can be deformed and how fast or slow it flows. Some liquids are so viscous they flow very slowly, like honey, custard or tomato sauce.

Another name for ‘normal’ liquids is Newtonian fluids, but some liquids behave so strangely they are called non-Newtonian fluids. Non-Newtonian fluids change their behaviour when they are under stress or strain, which means that some sort of force is applied on them. A very famous non-Newtonian fluid is a mixture of cornflour and water – when a force is applied, its viscosity gets very high momentarily.

Strange liquids are fascinating. Scientists like Dr Michael Walmsley from the University of Waikato are studying different fluid properties.