Monday, June 11, 2012

Non-Newtonian Pothole Filler

It's no secret that we're huge fans of oobleck, ketchup, chocolate, silly putty and all manner of other non-Newtonian fluids. Now we can include one really cool application to the list of weird fluid wonders - non-Newtonian filler for potholes.

It's one of those great, yet tantalizingly obvious, inventions. I only wish I'd thought of it first.

Science Now does a good job explaining the details of the gooey pothole solution and the competition that spawned it.

The Case Western Reserve students who came up with the non-Newtonian patch must have been pretty confident to risk testing it on a public road though. I'm awfully fond of my vehicles, and would prefer to be alerted if you plan on involving one in an experiment like this.

There's also at least one obvious problem that I can think of. That is, the goop acts like a solid when you drive over it, but lots of the time in rush hour around these parts is spent standing still. Can you imagine sitting in a traffic jam somewhere and realizing that one wheel is slowing sinking into what you thought to be asphalt?

There are probably some pretty simple mods to solve the problem. Perhaps adding some sort of hardener to slowly turn the fluid to a true solid over time would work. That would eliminate the possibility of reusing patches though.

I imagine anyone clever enough to think this up in the first place can probably solve any issue I think up. So I'll just step back and say congrats to the CWR students for offering a creative solution to one of the most annoying things to plague commuters like me. If nothing else, my kidneys will appreciate it.

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