December 1, 2011 Issue

Physics To Go 119 - Magnetic liquid

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Physics in Your World

Ferrofluids image
image credit: © Felice Frankel, from "Envisioning Science, the Design and Craft of the Science Image;" larger image


Physics becomes art in Felice Frankel's photo of a ferrofluid with permanent magnets underneath. In a ferrofluid, a region of approximately constant magnetic field produces a pattern of spikes.

A ferrofluid is a concentrated suspension of nanometer-sized magnetic particles. To learn more, see the Physics Central feature Ferrofluid Fun.

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Physics at Home

A Magnet That Drips: Making Ferrofluids

Ferrofluids like the ones pictured above are not difficult to make--you can prepare your own by following the instructions at A Magnet That Drips: Making Ferrofluids. Since the ferrofluid will be messy, make sure your work area is easy to clean. Also, be sure you have an adult working with you.


From Physics Research

Fluid morphs into startling designs, surprising MIT researchers image
image credit: Prof. Markus Zahn; image source ; larger image

Fluid morphs into startling designs, surprising MIT researchers

This ferrofluid was subjected to a magnetic field perpendicular to its surface. The surface broke up into hexagonal regions, each with its own spike. For a MIT News article showing other ferrofluid patterns created by the same physicist, see Fluid morphs into startling designs, surprising MIT researchers.

Worth a Look

Morpho Towers, Two Standing Spirals

This video shows a ferrofluid work of art.

(This feature was updated on September 21, 2013.)

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