Shooting Non-Newtonian Fluids

Science is awesome. Yes, that is a blanket statement but when one realizes that firearms would not exist without it and that because of it development continues to advance does one truly appreciate it.

Or, one can appreciate it without going all wax nostalgic. Shooting stuff is just plain fun, but it gets even better when one starts shooting things and the results do not go as one would expect. Enter non-newtonian fluids which can act as either a liquid or a solid depending on the force applied to them.

Oobleck (corn starch and water) is one of the easiest non-newtonian fluids to create and its fantastic to watch get shot with various objects. The Backyard Scientist (an awesome channel, especially if one has little kits) proceeds to bombard the substance with high velocity projectiles. While none are firearms, the effect of high-speed kinetics is mesmerizing.

For those interested in higher science, non-newtonian fluids are making a large impact in ballistic armor research. The theory is that one can have fully flexible armor that hardens on impact giving the user full range of motion compared to existing armor systems.

Check out the video below and The Backyard Scientist on YouTube. 


Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Pete M

    Very cool. But no eye-pro makes me cringe.

    • MR

      See if your kids catch that. If they don’t mention it, ask if there’s something he forgot. Remind them that just because someone else does something unsafe, doesn’t make it okay.

    • ozzallos .


    • iksnilol

      I thought it would make you squint 😛

  • Gorilla Biscuit

    This needs to be done with a lil C4 in center of the balloon and high speed camera. Energy and the shape of Oobleck moving at 30,000 feet per second would be really something awesome to capture.

  • Tom Simpson

    Um…I think BATFE might argue that the propane golf ball thingie is in fact a firearm…and a DD at at that…at least, they do with spud guns…

    • Nick

      Wander around YouTube and you’ll find people with zip guns and full auto guns they’ve made in their garage.

      If ATF wants to go after YouTubers, there’s a never ending supply of idiots filming their illegal contraptions. Occasionally someone is dumb enough to even say where they’re from.

    • abecido

      The propane gun does not use fixed ammunition and is therefore not a firearm under federal law. If it fired explosive or incendiary projectiles, those would be destructive devices but the launcher itself is not.

  • Badwolf

    “…bombard the substance with high velocity projectiles. While none are firearms…”

    In this video, bb gun pellet goes through. Someone else did a video using a real gun (google fu it) and bullet also goes through. So to me that proves cornstarch & water don’t work. But of course there are many other non Newtonian fluids. We have shoot it all to test it. Any volunteers?

    • Pete M

      I don’t want to be the guy wearing a vest full of silly putty while someone shoots me in the chest. “Didn’t work. Next volunteer.”

    • Limonata

      Kevlar especially the kind dipped in a silica-glycol solution is a form of non Newtonian fluid that can stop a bullet. I believe that is what Level III armor happens to be. I believe going above Level III requires ceramic plates because there is a point where all non Newtonian fluids actually tear. BEA at one point did have a pure liquid that could do the job but not sure why the development stopped. It is too long ago but remember seeing a video.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    Oh come one you guys, Im sure nobody in your suburban Florida back yard would care if you shot at a balloon full of oobleck with a .50BMG API…

  • Joe

    I think we’re going to see this technology applied to military armor in the next decade or so. I may be wrong but it seems like something to be integrated into the uniform, allowing ballistic protection head-to-toe. However, I expect our next major conflict to take place in the jungles of Asia, where heat and humidity make wearing any armor difficult.

  • Iblis

    You only cover the eyes you want to keep. Great vid though.

  • Simon R.

    No goggles in this vid makes me cringe.

  • Miguel Raton

    Virtually every experiment was the same: the failure of the containment vessel rendered the non-Newtonian liquid freedom to expand & remain fluid. Put it in something with some sort of tensile strength to contain the distributed force of expansion & test again. [Might I add, “Duh?”]