Saturday Morning Science Experiment: Up With Magnets!

Ferrofluids are basically just iron nanoparticles suspended in a liquid. In the presence of magnets, they do some pretty cool things. For instance, ferrofluids flow to place where the magnetic flux--the strength of the magnetism--is strongest. So if you magnetize the screw from a meat grinder so the magnetic flux is denser at the top than it is at the bottom, the ferrofluid will climb the screw like staircase.

Thumbnail image courtesy Gregory Maxwell, via CC


  1. The artist Sachiko Kodama specializes in kinetic sculptures using ferrofluids; they often look rather like the video cited here but more elegant (being carefully designed rather than made out of a meat grinder and a plastic tub ;-) This video is a good example of her work.

  2. My favorite part of this is the hand, reaching hesitantly into the frame, slowly caressing the curves of the screw, languidly rolling it back and forth. Clearly this experiment was more fun stoned.

  3. The hand toying with the meat grinder (ugh! How CAN anyone eat the stuff?) and the spectral, spooky music – the building blocks of a nightmare.

  4. That’s from the how to….

    “Several people have asked me if they can make substitutions for the oleic acid and the kerosene.”

    Holy shit, can you guys light this stuff on fire for next weeks experiment?

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