Science anomalies – Rebels with a cause!

Zoo Boo sign on hay

Science doesn’t always follow the rules. In the spirit of Halloween, FIU CASE demonstrated a few of these unique phenomena at Zoo Miami’s Zoo Boo event.  The spooky spectacle included:

Halloween “Goo”— While most matter exists in three forms (solids, liquids, or gases) a little thing called “oobleck” doesn’t like to choose. It exists in multiple forms at once. Scientists categorize this as a non-newtonian fluid. A non-newtonian fluid’s viscosity is variable based on applied stresses. When guests interacted with the “oobleck” at Zoo Boo, they could apply significant force (like a punch), and it would remain solid.  Yet once attendees picked it up (with or applied body heat), the qualities would reflect those of a liquid and begin to drip.  This experiment can be done at home with a 1:1 ratio of water and corn starch. 

A Bubbling Cauldron— The solid form of carbon dioxide is often referred to as dry ice because it skips the melting phase. At negative 100 degrees Fahrenheit, when heated, it transitions directly to a gas, skipping liquefaction. With warm water and a block of CO2 in a cauldron Zoo Boo attendees watched the eerie phenomenon.

Body Scabs— Scabs aren’t quite anomalies, but they pop up when accidents (or anomalies to routine) occur.  When our largest body organ – skin – gets cut, the human body goes into defense mode to maintain its health. It creates a temporary armor/shield via scabs. Scabs help protect fragile new skin that’s forming, protecting it from outside pathogens that could potentially cause harm. FIU CASE simulated this process with red food coloring (showcasing the color of blood), Vaseline (the coagulating cells), 1-ply toilet paper (new skin) and cocoa powder (representing the dirt).

Visit the Education Outreach webpage for more information on different programs offered.