Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A study of the non-Newtonian fluidic properties of small boys


A longitudinal study has been made of the time-independent non-Newtonian fluidic properties of a single example of a Small Boy. The study has been conducted over a period of four years, with continuous behavioural monitoring and construction of a range of experimental situations. The lack of availability of further subjects, and a profound psychological inability of the progenitors to create further specimens limits this study to a single subject. The lack of a control subject limits the conclusions that can be drawn from this study, but nonetheless the observations are felt to be of benefit to the scientific community.


Certain fluids or suspensions exhibit non-Newtonian behaviour under stress. Most commonly these fluids exhibit changes in viscosity that are dependent upon the shear rate. A simple experiment may be undertaken in the home laboratory to demonstrate this effect by creating a mixture of cornflour and water - gentle stirring causes the mixture to be very fluid; attempts to stir vigorously result in a very stiff mixture. This behaviour is a classic example of a dilatant fluid in which the viscosity ("thickness") increases with applied shear force. In the context of the subject matter, Small Boy, this is best expressed as the ability to resist increasing with the force applied.

Experimental conditions

The subject of this study (LB) has varied in dimensions, mobility, co-ordination and communications skills over the course of the study. Attempts are made to normalise these variations by taking an approach classified as Age Appropriate Assessment of Behaviour. In the initial phases of the study, LB's behaviour was largely unpredictable, and could not be considered to fit into any particular model. Inputs and outputs were random and subject to change without notice. The first six months of the study produced little useful data.

Experiment #1
On first attempting to introduce LB to solid nutrients using traditional implements such as the "spoon" the degree of arm movement, head-deflection and high-pitched keening increased in direct proportion to the proximity of the spoon. Several weeks of persistent attempts to approach LB with a spoon exacerbated the above effects such that the experimenter was no longer able to continue. Small fragments of solid nutrients were then placed within reach of LB and he was observed to reach out and insert them into his own buccal cavity with enthusiasm. The removal of external forces resulted in a significant and rapid decrease in resistance.

Experiment #2
When first encountering a large-scale, gravity-propelled, low-friction, acceleration device ("slide") LB vehemently declined to operate the device. Encouragement, assistance and co-operation with the experimenter did not meet with success. Only when the experimenter ceased to observe the subject did the subject voluntarily operate the device.

Experiment #3
The subject has been observed to be adverse to consuming animal protein products. A dedicated programme of bribery, coercion and threat was undertaken. At the peak of this programme, items of cooked material from Gallus gallus domesticus were forcibly ejected from the plate and in extreme cases saline fluid was seen to emerge from the lacrimal canaliculi of the subject. At this stage the experimenters acknowledged that additional force was merely generating additional resistance. Some months after the experiment was abandoned, LB was heard to request "Can we have a roast dinner today Mummy? Then I can try the chicken. And get two dinosaur stickers!" In addition, LB was observed to be returning from an alternative care environment displaying high-status victory trophies (sparkly dinosaur stickers) every day for three weeks. Each trophy had been awarded for the voluntary consumption of new food products. It is of note that the subject's resistance to new food products exhibited this marked change only after the removal of external force.

Experiment #4
When confronted with a large volume of aqueous liquid mediated by a small volume of chlorinated substances, LB started to exhibit a sudden and vehement reluctance to undertake a complete immersion in the liquid. Increasing insistence on the part of a secondary experimenter that LB undertake a free-fall, total immersion ("jump") led to flailing arms, shaking and the emission of high pitched sounds of distress. A forced immersion initiated by the secondary instructor exacerbated these symptoms to such an extent that the primary investigator was forced to remove LB from the experiment for his own well-being. Subsequent encounters with large aqueous volumes using modified methodologies such as "play" and "fun" resulted in LB exhibiting spheniscid behaviour, swimming almost exclusively underwater, and demonstrating no inhibitions regarding immersion. Contrary to expectations, LB subsequently exhibited an emotional resistance to leaving the aqueous environment despite pronounced physiological changes appearing to the skin of the hands and feet due to prolonged exposure.


In each of the experiments described above, resistance to action was observed to increase as greater external force was applied. Conversely, smooth action, low viscosity and fluid behaviour was observed only in the absence of external force. There appear to be significant similarities between non-Newtonian dilatant fluids and some classes of Small Boy. Further work is clearly needed to optimise parenting of non-Newtonian fluidic children and to improve the success rate of experimenter-led activities such that they approximate to the success rate of LB-led activities.

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