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Newton's Third Law

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Non-newtonian Fluids

Non-newtonian Fluids

Credit: Rory MacLeod
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38775064@N05/5393823764/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Non-Newtonian fluids are those that exhibit flow properties that are different than Newtonian fluids. These types of fluids typically have a viscosity which depends upon the shear rate of the fluid.

News You Can Use

  • While most fluids show little resistance when a sheer stress is applied, non-Newtonian fluids provide a resistance that is proportional to the sheer stress applied. This is a result of the particles that are held in suspension in the fluid. As a result, the liquid behaves more like a solid than a liquid when the shear rate is increased. The shear stress is defined as the ratio of the shear force to the area it is applied too.

Shear \ Stress=\frac{F_s}{A}

  • The behavior of non-Newtonian fluids is dependent upon many parameters such as particle size, particle distribution and particle volume fraction. When a sufficient shear stress is applied to a non-Newtonian fluid the particles inside jam up like too many people trying to get through a single doorway. This jam up causes an increase in the viscosity of the fluid.
  • Chances are you used or played with non-Newtonian fluids but never realized it. Everyday examples include: silly putty, corn starch and water and even some brake pads. Recent advancements in the study of non-Newtonian fluids even suggest that it could be used as a form of body armor in the near future.
  • Watch the Time Warp crew video Non-Newtonian fluids in slow motion: 


  • Watch the Mythbuster walk on water using Non-Newtonian fluid: 


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Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.

  1. Would ketchup be a non-Newtonian fluid? Why?
  2. In both of the videos above, why did the hosts have to move quickly across the surface of the liquid?
  3. Would quicksand be a Newtonian or a non-Newtonian fluid?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Rory MacLeod; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38775064@N05/5393823764/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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