MIT's Dough Boy

Mary
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Trevor Ng is getting his Ph.D. in rheology at MIT's non-Newtonian fluid dynamics research group. What this means is that he plays with dough for a living:

His Ph.D. thesis concerns the mechanical properties of matter -- in this case, dough -- and how it behaves when subjected to forces. ...

Non-Newtonian fluids are unusual materials. Their viscosity, or slipperiness, changes with the amount of strain applied to them. Many non-Newtonian fluids have microscopic structures that affect how they react when poked or prodded, and how fast they move when they flow. Picture peanut butter or mayonnaise dripping from a tap -- they would not behave like water. Some non-Newtonian fluids such as polymers bounce like a ball if dropped but flow smoothly if placed on a surface.

[Ng's boss's] research group looks at DNA, saliva, tree sap and okra, a natural polymer used as a food thickener for thousands of years. Snail slime and such oddities as magnetic fluids also are investigated.

I would love to see the grant application for this one. More on Trevor's research here.

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November 6, 2006 - 5:04am
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