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Education Science

5 Strangest Materials 196

MattSparkes writes to tell us that NewScientist recently posted a quick look at five interesting materials with some very strange properties. There are liquids you can walk on, liquids that will escape containers by creeping up the sides, and magnetic liquids that can easily show you the shape of magnetic fields. The story also offers video links to display some of more amazing properties described.
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5 Strangest Materials

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  • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:09PM (#17451812) Journal
    According to TFA, "To make a superfluid you must cool helium down to a couple of a degrees below zero - not one to try at home."

    Now I'm no physicist, but I'm pretty sure a couple of degrees below absolute zero isn't possible, and on any other scale I can think of, it's a bit warm for superfluids. I guess he meant "above zero", although a unit would still have been useful. Funnily enough, I was just bitching [] about scientific faux pas in the mainstream media, but New Scientist?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:10PM (#17451822)
    And you can make a solution of water and sodium chloride at -9c, does that mean water doesn't freeze at 0c?
  • by TheManifold ( 844766 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @07:23PM (#17451930)
    Did you know that the Editor of New Scientist is a biologist?

    Food for thought.
  • by CosmeticLobotamy ( 155360 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:37PM (#17453082)
    Absolutely. Unless you're trying to stop the "bloated, lazy crap"-ness mentioned. Unless that was literal bloating and non-fatness-related laziness. Since it was country-wide in scope and water-retention is hardly a national epidemic, I assume the OP meant, "it makes you fat." In which case, 99% of the time, the only number you need to worry about is calories.
  • Water not on list? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:10AM (#17454702) Homepage

    I wonder which are safe to drink?

    Which makes you wonder why water isn't on the list. It may be ubiquitous, but it's weird. Think about it - how many other materials become less dense (ie. expand) when they freeze? I think there are about two or three known. How many others dissociate on their own in their liquid state? How many others have as big a specific heat? Think about the myriad things which are a result of those properties, some of which are a pain in the ass (cracked engine blocks if no antifreeze); some of which are boons (life in general - dissociation, frog hibernation - whole lakes don't freeze solid because ice is weird enough to float, water is one of the best coolants there is - specific heat).

    Water is truly a strange chemical. Think about that next time you blithely pour it down your throat.

  • by acherusia ( 995492 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @01:24AM (#17454786)

    I have mod points, but I'm commenting instead because you kind of hit a pet peeve of mine. I used to feel the same way about low calorie foods. The lower the calories were per serving, the better it was for me, even if it tasted like someone had put dog turds in it.

    Only I was never satisfied after that, because everything was so bloody tasteless. I want food with flavor and texture and interest, damnit. So I ate more because I was craving something that resembled real food. I gained a lot of weight following that advice. Then I switched to cooking more from scratch (which I enjoy anyway), to paying more attention to the flavor of the food than the caloric content, and to enjoying what I ate. And to not eat crap food when I wasn't hungry simply because it was time to eat. Didn't lose the weight I gained (partially, I'll admit, because a hobby of baking desserts, especially when bored or stressed, just never helps on any diet), but didn't gain any more. And I was a hell of a lot happier with myself than when I was eating cardboard for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    I'm not saying you should always only eat high calorie foods, just don't eat low-calorie food if you think it tastes like crap. Life's too long to waste on bad food every day.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor