Strange Substance

The conundrum with fluids is that they are tricky. Have you ever tried to put something straight, such as a pencil, in a glass of water? That water will make you think the pencil isn’t actually straight. What about mixing cornstarch with water? If you get the proportions just right, you’ll find yourself with a bowl of a fluid-like substance that sometimes tries to masquerade as a solid.

Fluidity is a strange concept.

I have my doubts as to whether it can even be grasped. When was the last time you were able to grab a handful of fruit juice in your fist? That sweetness easily slips right through your fingers.

Fluids need the support of a solid in order to be maintained in one constant; whereas, a solid remains itself without further prompting. What if the fluid doesn’t want to be constant? Solids may have an obvious effect on fluids, but fluids make their fair share of impacts. Check out that wet pencil. From the side of the glass, the pencil appears to have lost its straightness. You and I know that is not actually true, but that’s what we see. Sometimes our brains accept things at the superficial level of vision. Think about what would happen to that pencil if you left it in the water for several days. The water would push its way slowly into the integrity of the pencil, and slightly alter it, and it would never go back to its original form.

Cornstarch and water is something children everywhere can appreciate. Fill up a large bowl with the strange concoction, and hours of fun can ensue. Look down at that bowl. The white surface is smooth. If you bump the bowl, you will likely see ripples. “Yes,” Your mind will state, “This is a liquid.” Try punching the mixture straight from the top. Go on. Your hand won’t go through. Wait, didn’t your mind just tell you this was a liquid? How can a liquid keep a solid from forcing its way inside of it? Try another approach. Relax your fingers, and slowly slide them into the substance. Magically, the white formula feels like a liquid again. This fluid isn’t so easily impacted. It remains much calmer in the face of violence. As a matter of fact, when you pull your hand out, some of the fluid sticks with you.

Fluids are identified by their ability to take the shape of a solid container. Fluids have molecules that manage to move freely without separating. Fluids can flow, move, and join other fluids to appear greater.

To me, fluidity is almost a sort of freedom – if you can manage it. To be fluid, would be to change your shape. It would be to move freely without losing who you are. It would be to move throughout this world in a different way.

Think about your body. How much of it is fluid? I’m sure water and blood come to mind. Can you think of anything else? For some, they look past the science of fluidity, and into themselves with a level of self-awareness not easily achieved. For those of us that don’t identify with the pencil or the fist, looking more closely at the water or cornstarch is an option.

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