The physics of the Great Molasses Flood: Those pesky non-Newtonian fluids

Scientific American breaks it down for us, explains why the nature of molasses made the flood far worse than if it had just been some rogue wave tearing through the inner harbor:

Molasses is a non-Newtonian fluid, which means that its viscosity depends on the forces applied to it, as measured by shear rate. Consider non-Newtonian fluids such as toothpaste, ketchup and whipped cream. In a stationary bottle, these fluids are thick and goopy and do not shift much if you tilt the container this way and that. When you squeeze or smack the bottle, however, applying stress and increasing the shear rate, the fluids suddenly flow. Because of this physical property, a wave of molasses is even more devastating than a typical tsunami.

H/t Martin Lieberman.

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Just finishing up the Dark

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Just finishing up the Dark Tide about the molasses flood in the North End. Facinating story and gives a good look to life in Boston during those times (1918/1919). I think the book was recommended by someone on this blog and I would highly recommend it myself.

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As a kid growing up in

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As a kid growing up in Boston, this was one of the nightmarish disaster stories I grew up hearing about from my elders. Another one was the ammo boat explosion in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia, witnessed by my grandmother in 1917.

Probably why I don't like molasses to this day.

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I'm not a huge fan of

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I'm not a huge fan of molasses either, but I am a pretty big fan of rum.

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And, I belive, Boston's

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And, I belive, Boston's response to the Nova Scotia disaster is why they send a Christmas Tree to the city every year. I like those nice traditions.

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Yup

I've taken two separate tours of Halifax and Boston's assistance immediately following the explosion was mentioned by both operators. Since I have friends living up there, I've always thought it was a nice connection.

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One word

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Oobleck

If you've never made a batch, you can do so for about 50 cents worth of ingredients.

Yup, it really does pour like a liquid and break when you hit it with a hammer.

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"isn't it ironic..."

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Is the seedy fig-spooj in Fig Netwons a non-Newtonian fluid?
If yes, then call Alanis.

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