The Bizarre World of Ferrofluid


Ready for some freaky science? My most recent obsession is ferrofluid, a liquid containing ferromagnetic nanoparticles that respond strongly to magnets, while remaining in liquid suspension. Okay, in layman's terms, this stuff is basically the oil monster from Star Trek the Next Generation (the one that ate Tasha Yar).

The best way to understand what this stuff looks like is to see it in action. Check out Sachiko Kodama's "Morpho Tower," a moving, changing sculpture:

(Check out more sculptures at Google Video -- seriously, check them out.)

More amazing ferrofluid videos and links after the jump!

Ferrofluids have lots of practical applications -- used in everything from anti-radar paint to hard drives. But for my money, it looks like a way-cool toy. Daniel Rutter wrote up a brief article about the material, with plenty of photos.

Here's a "Fun with Ferrofluid" video showing what happens when you play with magnets and a dish of the stuff:

Ferrofluids can also be used for games. SnOil is an implementation of the simple video game "Snake" done in ferrofluid. In order to play, the user tilts the tray of fluid, steering the snake. Stick around for when the user finally loses and "GAME OVER" scrolls across...written in fluid: SnOil.

You can buy ferrofluid kits online, or check out some instructions for making your own (looks messy).

Need more videos? Search YouTube for 'ferrofluid' to find tons more.