Who Invented the First Oobleck? (Invention Timeline Explained)

The world of science keeps on growing and expanding. New information, inventions, and concepts are added every day. Because of this unending flow of knowledge, science becomes more and more fascinating. And even after years of research and studies, there are still a lot of areas to explore. One good example is the states of matter.

For years, we believed that matter comes in three forms- solid, liquid, and gas. Scientists used to think that even though matter can change its forms, it can only take one state of matter at a time. So, you can imagine their surprise when they found out about Oobleck. Oobleck is an example of a non-newtonian fluid. Being a non-newtonian fluid means it has the qualities of both solids and liquids. Here’s a quick look into the fascinating history of Oobleck.

Who invented the first Oobleck?

Sir Isaac Newton was the first person to describe the properties of non-newtonian fluids in 1700. However, it was not until 1949 that the word “Oobleck” was coined by Dr Seuss, a children’s book author, in his story Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

The Oobleck’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • Sir Isaac Newton (1700)
    The Principles of Viscosity

    The principle of viscosity states that no matter how hard you stir water, its resistance will just stay the same. Sir Isaac Newton made this observation and assumed that all types of fluids follow it. However, some fluids (e.g. honey, paint, ink, and yogurt) do not follow this principle. These fluids are called non-newtonian.

  • Dr Seuss (1949)
    Bartholomew and the Oobleck

    Dr Seuss, a famous author, used the term “Oobleck” to describe a type of non-newtonian fluid in his book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. He described it as a sticky, gooey green substance falling from the sky.

  • Daniel Blair and NIST (2016)
    The Demystification of Oobleck

    Daniel Blair is a professor in Georgetown who worked with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to study and explain Oobleck’s potential to improve body armors. The results of his studies are promising. They opened the doors to the development of soft robots.

  • MIT Engineers (2019)
    Understanding Oobleck’s Weird Behavior

    Oobleck has a pretty weird behavior. It acts like a liquid when you swirl it gently and solidifies the moment you exert force on it. Engineers at MIT tried to predict the behavior of Oobleck under various conditions through mathematical computations and predictions. Their discoveries can help utilize Oobleck in industries and the military.

  • Aix-Marseille University (2020)
    The Origin of Oobleck Waves

    A group of scientists and researchers from Aix-Marseille University is trying to unveil the origin of Oobleck waves. They conducted experiments where they measured and observed the waves as they let Oobleck flow in an inclined plain. An important conclusion they came up with is that Oobleck does not react to inertia. Instead, it is more affected by its specific flowing properties.

When was the first Oobleck invented?

In general, non-Newtonian fluids were first described in the early 1700s by Sir Isaac Newton. The term “Oobleck” was first used by Dr Seuss in his book Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

A brief history of Oobleck

Fluids are categorized into Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids. Isaac Newton observed that Newtonian fluids such as water, gasoline, alcohol, and oil followed a linear relationship with stress and viscosity. However, he also observed that some special fluids do not follow these rules. He labeled these fluids non-Newtonian. Oobleck is an example of a non-Newtonian fluid.

The term “Oobleck” was coined by Dr Seuss, a renowned author of children’s books. In his book Bartholomew and the Oobleck, he described a kind of non-Newtonian fluid that pours like liquid from the sky and becomes sticky and solid-like as it reaches the ground. People then officially borrowed the term “Oobleck” to describe a type of non-Newtonian fluid.

Since then, Oobleck has become a favorite science fair project for young kids. Aside from its fascinating properties, it is also reasonably easy to make. Oobleck is just a simple mixture of water and cornstarch. Kids love to make and play with it. Who wouldn’t be fascinated with a mixture that feels like liquid when force is not applied and then turn hard and solid once the stress is present? It’s the closest thing to magic!

Aside from school science fairs, Oobleck also caught the attention of many experts, engineers, scholars, and scientists. They conducted many studies to test the potential of Oobleck in different fields. Some recent studies include Daniel Blair’s research about the possibility of Oobleck improving bulletproof vests and body armors. 

In 2019, engineers at MIT tried to understand and predict Oobleck’s unusual behaviors. They used mathematical computations to predict the movement of Oobleck. Because of their research, the nature of Oobleck becomes more apparent, so it’ll be easier for future researchers to utilize Oobleck in the military. Professors conducted another research at Aix Marseille University in 2020. They observed the movements and waves of Oobleck and found out that it has unique flowing properties and was not affected by inertia the way other fluids do. 

Different studies are centered around Oobleck and its promising potential. It can be the key to opening many unexplored fields in science and e

The Oobleck timeline

  1. 1700
    Stubborn Fluids

    Sir Isaac Newton studied the behavior of fluids and found out that certain fluids like water, alcohol, gasoline, and mineral oil followed the principle of viscosity. However, he discovered that some fluids do not follow these rules; he called them non-newtonian fluids.

  2. 1949
    In a Children’s Book

    Who would have thought that a breakthrough in the field of science would be named in a children’s book? Well, that’s the case for a non-newtonian fluid, Oobleck. Dr Seuss called Oobleck in one of his children’s books, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. He described it as a stick substance falling from the sky like a liquid and hardening in the ground like a solid.

  3. 2016
    For Body Armors

    Scientists and experts from Georgetown and NIST were interested in the potential of Oobleck to enhance body armor and bulletproof vests. The results opened many doors and opportunities for further studies. They even proposed to use Oobleck to develop soft robots.

  4. 2019
    Oobleck, the Weird Kid

    Oobleck doesn’t follow the rules of ordinary or Newtonian fluids. It is known as being the weird kid in the park. Its behaviors are very unpredictable. Engineers at MIT observed and studied its behavior using probability, statistics, and mathematical computations. They discover that Oobleck is a potential game changer in the military and industrial fields.

  5. 2020
    Oobleck’s Flowing Properties

    Oobleck is still considered fluid, despite its unpredictable properties. A group of researchers from Aix-Marseille University tried to understand its waves’ origin. They concluded that Oobleck does not react with inertia like Newtonian fluids. Instead, its specific flowing property affects it more.

Where was Oobleck invented?

Non-newtonian fluids were first observed by Isaac Newton. The first Oobleck (made of cornstarch and water) was first produced at the University of Texas at Austin.

The importance of the Oobleck

  • Sensory Play

    Oobleck is a fascinating instrument to use in sensory play. Oobleck encourages kids to explore. It also arouses higher-order thinking; kids ask “how” and “why.” Parents and educators love to upgrade Oobleck by adding colors, textures, and other elements.

  • Biodegradable Packaging Material

    Since Oobleck is made of cornstarch and water, both biodegradable and non-toxic. Some companies in the food industry use packaging materials made of Oobleck which are cheap and eco-friendly.

  • Potential for Bullet Proof Vest

    Non-Newtonian fluids like Oobleck is proven to be more effective at stopping bullets than water. So, many engineers and researchers are working on Oobleck to improve bulletproof vests and armors.

  • For Comfortable Shoes

    The discovery of non-newtonian fluids like the Oobleck gave way to the shoe industry to make more comfortable footwear. Shoes with an inner layer of non-Newtonian fluid are more comfortable while the wearers are standing idly since the non-Newtonian fluid remains in liquid form. On the other hand, the non-Newtonian fluid will solidify during running to avoid injuries.

The Oobleck by the numbers

  • 20Oobleck will become rubbery if exposed to an environment 20 degrees Celsius above normal room temperature.
  • 1:2The perfect Oobleck ratio is 1 part water and 2 parts cornstarch.
  • 14An Oobleck can be stored and reused for sensory play for up to 2 weeks or 14 days.
  • 6Oobleck, like other kinds of matter, has physical and chemical properties. Oobleck has 6 physical properties: color, texture, taste, boiling point, melting point, and freezing point.

Five facts about the Oobleck

  • Walk on Water

    Surely, you’ve been curious about how it feels to walk on water. Well, the closest thing we can get is walking on Oobleck. The key is running very fast to keep Oobleck in its solid state.

  • Like Quicksand

    Oobleck shares similar characteristics as quicksand. Quicksands are naturally seen in nature and are very dangerous on rainy days.

  • It’s Edible

    Well, we do not recommend it. But Oobleck is actually edible! Since it is non-toxic and is just made of water and cornstarch, it is safe for kids to play with. And we know kids love to taste everything!

  • No Definite Shape

    Oobleck takes the form of solid but doesn’t have a definite shape. Even if you put it in a container and let it solidify, it won’t keep the shape of that container once it is taken out. Even if you make a ball out of Oobleck, it’ll quickly lose its shape once you throw it in the air.

  • It Doesn’t Bounce.

    Oobleck is a type of non-Newtonian fluid which does not bounce. It is classified as a dilatant. 

FAQ about the Oobleck

  • What is Oobleck made of?

    Oobleck is a simple mixture of water and cornstarch.

  • Is ketchup an example of Oobleck?

    No. Ketchup is the opposite of Oobleck. It is sometimes called the “anti-Oobleck.”

  • Can I microwave Oobleck?

    You can try. The microwave heat will evaporate the Oobleck water, so you’ll be left with the cornstarch part.

  • Can you add glitter to Oobleck?

    Of course. Teachers and parents love to add different things to make Oobleck more interesting. You can add glitters and food coloring to make it more attractive to kids.

  • How do you clean up Oobleck?

    Playing with Oobleck can be messy (extremely messy). The trick is to wipe it up with a dry cloth and then clean the residue with wipes or a sponge.

Leave a Comment