Surreal Ferrofluid Reflection Pool Magically Changes to Mimic Viewers

Nov 10 2016 -- 3:00 AM

It's time again for another round of everybody's favorite combined physics/chemistry show... Fun! With! Ferrofluid!  This time around we have a creation by engineer and artist Eric Mesplé titled "Ferroflection Pool," which utlizes 320 magnets, a video camera to track viewers' movements, and of course, a big ol' pan of the ever-mystifying ferrofluid.

Ferrofluid is, for those who haven't experienced all of its slick, black, magnetic glory in CrazyRussianHacker experiments or hypnotic wall clocks, a fluid that can interact with magnetic fields. Ferrofluid is made of three components: nano-scale iron oxide particles, an organic solvent, and something called a "surfactant" that serves to chemically bond the two together.

The result of this combination is a fluid that can be manipulated by magnetic fields without the iron oxide particles being pulled out of the oil in which they float. The fluid was originally used as a rocket fuel in weightless environments, but is now used in a wide range of useful ways including for microphones, motors, speakers, and of course, this super sweet reflecting pool.

According to Mesplé, the Ferroflection Pool works by using a camera to record a viewer's movements, which are then translated into inputs for a micro controller, which in turn switches on or off a series of several hundred magnets. When the magnets are activated, they cause the ferrofluid to bulge, and hey presto, you have a "reflection" of the viewer imprinted into the ferrofluid.


It's a process that's exceptionally magical to watch, as is usually the case with ferrofluid. It's also an interesting take on the concept of a "reflection," seeing as how the fluid isn't directly reflecting the photons bouncing off of viewers, but rather using those photons to record an image of what a viewer is doing and then using that information to generate a reflection. Plus it's oh so pretty.

What do you think about this "Ferroflection Pool"? Have you ever seen ferrofluid used in a cooler way? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Eric Mesple/YouTube

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