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If you drop silly putty from high enough it will shatter like glass when it hits the ground

By Morgan Wallace
Published in Science
February 02, 2024
2 min read
If you drop silly putty from high enough it will shatter like glass when it hits the ground

If you drop silly putty from high enough, it will shatter like glass when it hits the ground.


Silly putty, the iconic toy loved by children and adults alike, is a unique substance that can bounce, stretch, and even copy images from newspapers. But have you ever wondered what would happen if you dropped it from a great height? Contrary to popular belief, silly putty does not shatter like glass when it hits the ground, but rather undergoes a fascinating transformation. In this article, we will explore the science behind the behavior of silly putty when dropped from a significant height.

You might think that dropping a ball of silly putty would result in a messy splatter upon impact, but that’s not the case. Silly putty is actually a viscoelastic material, exhibiting both liquid-like and solid-like properties. When thrown against a hard surface, it acts as a solid, bouncing and retaining its shape. However, when left for an extended period of time, silly putty will slowly flatten out and flow like a liquid. This unique behavior is due to the presence of long polymer chains within the putty.

When silly putty is dropped from a height, it experiences a sudden and intense force upon impact. Rather than shattering into fragments, the putty undergoes a phenomenon called “shear-thinning.” The force causes the polymer chains to align and stretch, resulting in the putty becoming thinner and more spread out. This thinning effect gives the illusion of the putty breaking apart like glass.

To better understand this process, researchers at Boing Boing conducted experiments with silly putty. They dropped a sphere of putty from various heights and found that the higher the drop, the more the putty stretched upon impact. At a low height, the putty barely changed shape, but as the drop height increased, the putty became thinner and more elongated. However, despite its dramatic transformation, the putty remained intact and did not shatter like glass.


This behavior can be attributed to the unique properties of the polymer chains within the silly putty. The long chains allow the putty to stretch and flow under stress, preventing it from shattering upon impact. The putty’s elasticity and ability to undergo shear-thinning make it a fascinating material to study in the field of materials science.

In conclusion, dropping silly putty from a high enough height does not result in it shattering like glass. Instead, the putty undergoes shear-thinning, causing it to stretch and thin out upon impact. This behavior is a testament to the unique properties of silly putty and its ability to exhibit both liquid-like and solid-like characteristics. So the next time you have a ball of silly putty, don’t be afraid to drop it from a height and witness this captivating transformation in action.

Source: Boing Boing




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If you drove at 60 mph from earth to space you would reach it in about 1 hour if you drove to the moon at the same speed you would get there in less than 6 months or the equivalent of 10 times around the earth
Morgan Wallace

Morgan Wallace

Political journalist

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