Monday, August 23, 2010

Shear Thinning in Xenon

While poking around the web, I found this post, which described the CVX-2 viscometer, which was designed to test the shear-thinning properties of xenon near the critical point.  It's much easier to maintain the fluid at the critical point in the absence of gravity.  A paper describing the results was published in Phys. Rev. E [subscription required].
The experiments found evidence of shear-thinning behavior, which confirms the predictions of dynamic mode-coupling theory.  The viscometer flew on the Columbia's final mission.  Fortunately, the data were beamed to earth before the accident, and a hard drive with the data was recovered from the wreckage.

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