User tools

Strange Liquids

Liquid is one of the states of matter, and viscosity is a property of liquid. Some liquids display strange behaviour because their viscosity makes them flow differently to ‘normal’ liquids.

When we think of a liquid, we tend to think of something like water. When you pour the liquid into a cup, it takes on the shape of the container. This is one of a liquid’s properties.

Learn more...

Explore this science story

New Zealand Research


People Profile

Sick cows, soap and science


Dr Michael Walmsley

University of Waikato Department of Engineering


Sir Isaac Newton

Science Ideas & Concepts


Teaching & Learning Approaches

States of matter


Exploring states of matter



Racing marbles



Slumpy solids and lumpy liquids

Non-Newtonian fluids


Danger – quicksand!

Looking Closer


Walking on custard

Oobleck versus flubber


Sci Media Videos




Pouring custard


Pouring honey


Pouring liquid water

Another property of a liquid is its viscosity – how easily it can be deformed and how fast or slow it flows. Some liquids are so viscous they flow very slowly, like honey, custard or tomato sauce.

Another name for ‘normal’ liquids is Newtonian fluids, but some liquids behave so strangely they are called non-Newtonian fluids. Non-Newtonian fluids change their behaviour when they are under stress or strain, which means that some sort of force is applied on them. A very famous non-Newtonian fluid is a mixture of cornflour and water – when a force is applied, its viscosity gets very high momentarily.

Strange liquids are fascinating. Scientists like Dr Michael Walmsley from the University of Waikato are studying different fluid properties.

Science Learning Hub Survey 2014

Dear Hub visitor,

You're invited to participate in an online survey about the New Zealand Science Learning Hub. This survey was designed to help Hub staff enhance and develop further the site. This is different from our November 2013 survey, so even if you took part in that survey, we would appreciate you taking this survey as well.

Take the survey