There are tons of great physics lessons to be learned from combining ferrofluid with glow sticks, but, honestly, we’re just going to enjoy the mindless, mesmerizing effects it produces visually for the moment.
Just like, Physics Girl, she came up with the most awesome combination of strange liquids ever – ferrofluid and glow stick goo. In the video below, you’ll see what happens when you take this glowing liquid, mix it with ferrofluid and how it break out the magnets.
GOSH! This is so COOL!
Not only is this chemical reaction incredibly beautiful and weird, it’s loaded with fascinating physics, from what causes those spikes, to why the mixture is organizing itself into little worm-like patterns.
To begin with, those spikes don’t just form randomly – they all point in the same direction as the magnetic field lines coming from the magnet. You can see these lines in the video as they emanate up over the surface of the magnet, so when you’re watching ferrofluid spikes move in response to a magnet, you’re actually seeing the strength and direction of its magnetic field.
And what happens when the magnetic field is aligned horizontally to the ferrofluid? Well, as the spikes can only form vertically, you instead get the stunning, wormy patterns in the liquid.
But why does ferrofluid react to a magnetic field like this anyway?
Ferrofluids are liquids that hold tiny nano-sized particles of magnetic material within themselves in suspension. When they experience a magnetic field, they assume all kinds of interesting patterns, from complex swirling loops to spiky hedgehog-like domes.
As the video explains, these particles are small enough that even just their kinetic energy can overcome the magnetic attraction that would normally cause them to clump together and sink to the bottom.
What’s even cooler is the physics behind the formation of those alien spikes. See for yourself!