Big Picture Science – Go With the Flow

by Gary Niederhoff on April 8, 2019

Big Picture Science – DecodeHer

Solid materials get all the production credit. Don’t get us wrong, we depend on their strength and firmness for bridges, bones, and bento boxes. But liquids do us a solid, too. Their free-flowing properties drive the Earth’s magnetic field, inspire a new generation of smart electronics, and make biology possible. But the weird thing is, they elude clear definition. Is tar a liquid or a solid? What about peanut butter?

In this episode: A romp through a cascade of liquids with a materials scientist who is both admiring and confounded by their properties; how Earth’s molten iron core is making the magnetic north pole high-tail it to Siberia; blood as your body’s information superhighway; and how a spittlebug can convert 200 times its body weight in urine into a cozy, bubble fortress.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Mark Miodownik / Liquid Rules
Part 2: Arnaud Chulliat / Liquid Core
Part 3: Philip Matthews / Spittlebug Suds
Part 4: Rose George / Life’s Blood

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