You might find it hard to imagine gravity as a weak force, but consider that a small magnet can hold up a paper clip, even though the entire earth is pulling down on it.
Serosity: liquid magnetism comes alive in this ferrofluid video by Alistair Moncur.
"Magnetism, as you recall from physics class, is a powerful force that causes certain items to be attracted to refrigerators."
- Dave Barry
If you’re not on “full whoa” after that, then this one should do it, some gooey quantum goobers from Ludmila Kovalenko:
Jólan van der Wiel is a Dutch designer harnessing the power of nature to create unbelievable forms. His candlesticks begin as resin packed with iron oxide. Then, through a pulley system fitted with large magnets, the resin is pulled along the magnetic field lines into shapes that represent a freakin’ force of physics, visualized right before our eyes. The invisible made visible.
When the resin sets, the magnetic field spikes are written in air forever, with no human intervention!
When I was younger, I used to push two magnets together until I found that point where a bubble of repulsion formed between them. With the weak magnets I had access to, I could always overpower the repulsive force and push them together, but I was amazed that there was some unseen magic acting upon two physical objects.
By using computer-controlled magnetic field manipulations, a metal sphere is suspended in mid-air. Even more, it can be made to follow complex paths, “remembering” and repeating actions. If that somehow isn’t enough, just wait until he lights it up like an orbiting planet, and demonstrates Kepler’s Laws! Dude blew my mind!
It’s an experiment in challenging how we perceive natural patterns of motion, and whether computers, when combined with materials, can alter the way we interact with the world around us. Most of all, it’s AWESOME.
Aaaand now I’m obsessed with ferrofluids.
Join the club, Radiolab!
Ferrofluids are a colloid, like mayonnaise, except instead of fat suspended in liquid there’s iron-containing particles that can respond to a magnetic field. The particles are so small that they can remain dispersed in the liquid instead of sedimenting, the way that sand sinks and river silt stays suspended. When a magnetic field and some kind of substructure is applied (here, the cones), you get something amazing.
The peaks and valleys that are created are due to the magnetic field preferring the liquid over the air (something called “normal-field instability”). You get liquid dancing in dimensions that you aren’t used to seeing, and you get the illusion of dancing, dynamic solids growing solely from a black lagoon.
I’m gonna need a minute. This was too cool.