Creepy bubbles and magnets

By Phil Plait | August 30, 2011 12:59 pm

Science videos are pretty cool, so I was excited to see this cool one using soap bubbles to show how a fluid infused with a magnetic material would flow through the bubbles interstices…

… until I watched to the very end and then decided this was actually some weird horror movie trailer. Still, way cool, and the editing was very good.

But man, those last few seconds are creepy. Funny how we anthropomorphize things, or at least mentally give them a vitality they really lack.

Still. Yeesh.

Tip o’ the bubble wand to io9.


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Humor, Science
MORE ABOUT: bubbles, magnetism

Comments (17)

  1. BJN

    I don’t know about “creepy” aside from the black and red colors for the magnetic fluid. Very cool images, however. It’s always fascinating to see fractal patterns in simple inorganic systems that look organic.

  2. Jim

    Woah. o.O It’s like the alien black oil from the X-Files.

  3. podrock

    Interesting! This a good analog for how oil, or groundwater, moves through an unfractured sandstone with good porosity and permiability. Picture the bubbles as the quartz grains (clasts), the dark fluid as the oil moving through the intersticial spaces, and the magnet as the well bore whose lower pressure is attracting the fluid.

    When you hear of an oil reservoir, don’t picture a pool o’ petroleum underground, visualize this – in three dimensions. At least up until the bubbles collapse.

  4. rob

    i try to anthropomorphise certain politicians, but am constantly disappointed by their behavior.

    @podrock: i always assumed that the oil was in giant 3d resevoirs (i blame cartoons) until watching a PBS special not too long ago. i learned that the oil is distributed just as you mention. in retrospect, that makes much more sense.

  5. I was happy to see that it was not such a creepy ending as I expected after reading the post. :D But really, really cool. I wonder what kind of ferrofluid liquid that is being used? I got a sudden urge to try this myself.

  6. Dave

    I had the same thought about oil and ground-water movement… This is definately a good way to illustrate this.

  7. Mingan

    Thing about oil fields is that even in school textbooks, they’re always depicted as cavernous reservoirs. And to top it all off, they tell you they inject high pressure salt water in the rock to scrape off more oil. So much confusion.

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    Trippy! Neat if a little creepy clip. :-)

  9. Wzrd1

    @podrick #3, I was actually considering surfactant in an aqueous soultion.
    Or a new installment of Resident Evil… ;)

  10. Wzrd1

    @Minigan #7, consider what I said above to Podrick #3. Surfactant in an aqueous solution.
    The proper solvent for the proper solution in the conditions required, regardless of STP.

  11. sciencemc

    When the red started it kind of reminded me of the opening credits to Dexter.

  12. Derek

    Whooooaaaaaa… Okay, I agree with Phil that it got dadgum weird there at the end. That was freaky.

  13. Col

    “…a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming…”

  14. Hey! I thought this was supposed to be a blog about politics, not art!

    People do the most amazing art with magnetic fluids.

  15. Musical Lottie

    Ooh, that was very cool!

    @Mingan in schools in the UK, at GCSE level (up to age 16) chemists were* taught that every electron shell has eight electrons, and we even drew diagrams of this – it was only at A level (aged 17-18) that we were taught the correct number of electrons in each shell! (Funny how chemistry made more sense at A level … )

    *I don’t know if this is still the case; my GCSEs were only 6 years ago but it may have changed. Equally it may not have changed.

  16. Tim

    It reminds me of the possessed hand in Evil Dead.

  17. MaDeR

    @13 soo this video is showing larval stage of shoggoth?

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