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Concept# Fluid

Summary

In physics, a fluid is a liquid, gas, or other material that continuously deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress, or external force. They have zero shear modulus, or, in simpler terms, are substances which cannot resist any shear force applied to them.
Although the term fluid generally includes both the liquid and gas phases, its definition varies among branches of science. Definitions of solid vary as well, and depending on field, some substances can be both fluid and solid. Viscoelastic fluids like Silly Putty appear to behave similar to a solid when a sudden force is applied. Substances with a very high viscosity such as pitch appear to behave like a solid (see pitch drop experiment) as well. In particle physics, the concept is extended to include fluidic matters other than liquids or gases. A fluid in medicine or biology refers any liquid constituent of the body (body fluid), whereas "liquid" is not used in this sense. Sometimes liquids given for fluid replacement, either by drinking or by injection, are also called fluids (e.g. "drink plenty of fluids"). In hydraulics, fluid is a term which refers to liquids with certain properties, and is broader than (hydraulic) oils.
Fluids display properties such as:
lack of resistance to permanent deformation, resisting only relative rates of deformation in a dissipative, frictional manner, and
the ability to flow (also described as the ability to take on the shape of the container).
These properties are typically a function of their inability to support a shear stress in static equilibrium. In contrast, solids respond to shear either with a spring-like restoring force, which means that deformations are reversible, or they require a certain initial stress before they deform (see plasticity).
Solids respond with restoring forces to both shear stresses and to normal stresses—both compressive and tensile. In contrast, ideal fluids only respond with restoring forces to normal stresses, called pressure: fluids can be subjected to both compressive stress, corresponding to positive pressure, and to tensile stress, corresponding to negative pressure.

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