Posts Tagged ‘Particles’

Ferrofluid patterns and dancing art, fun with magnets

// April 29th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // How Things Work, Just for Fun, Science Art

Behold ferrofluid, nanoparticles of iron coated in a surfactant and suspended in a solution of oil or water.

The surfactant can be citric acid or soy lecithin, among other things, and is used to stop them sticking together

It’s like magnetic dust.

Put a magnet under some ferrofluid and the particles align themselves in patterns to show the field.

The magnetic attraction is so strong, the ferrofluid will stick to a magnet and then you’ll never get all the iron particles off it. They’re stuck for good.

To prevent that happening, people usually play with ferrofluid inside a sealed container.

And play it is, this stuff is fun.


A friend of mine put a magnet above some ferrofluid with the lid off, and was abruptly COVERED in black gunk which stuck to him despite three showers. He wasn’t too happy, I think it smelled pretty bad. Hardcore.

Like most hardcore stuff, it’s been turned into kickass art. This video pretty well blew my mind.

Sachiko Kodama and Yasushi Miyajima created the piece, two ferrofluid sculptures which move synthetically to music. The two towers are iron cores of electromagnets sitting in a pool of ferrofluid. Etched with a helix pattern, the ferrofluid can move up the tower if the magnetic field is strong enough, stretching out in spikes as it goes.

The strength of the electromagnet is linked to metadata in the music controlling the voltage and AC pattern. To correct for the time delay, the electromagnet controls starts early so the maximum size of spikes coincides with beats of the music.

The result is a choreographed pattern that dances and winds like a living thing.

You can buy ferrofluid from Emovendo.

Hat tip to @DrSkySkull, who bought some ferrofluid as a classroom demo and supplied the picture at the top of the article.

The Particle Zoo – Gift Idea for a Physicist

// December 10th, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Just for Fun, Science Art

I came across this cool gift for a physicist, or anyone, because they are totally geeky and super cute.


The Particle Zoo have soft quarks, leptons, nucleons, and theoreticals like the Higgs Boson and the Tachyon (which in the X-Files made time-travel possible!). PLUS they have the same range in antiparticles, which are kept on a seperate page to prevent mutual annihilation. They also have a pack for beta decay with a neutron that turns inside out to reveal a proton, and releases an electron, an electron anti-neutrino and a W-Boson.

It’s the attention to detail that really gets me, they are all weighted according to the particle weight, they all have neat stuff, like the W-boson is two sided, one positive (W+) and one negative (W-). For Christmas you can get mini-versions on ribbon as Christmas Decorations – nothing says I’m a massive physics geek than a Christmas tree spotted with quarks.

I think I’ve learned more about particle physics by searching this site than I did after year 12 physics. That wouldn’t be hard though.

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