Spiraling Ferrofluid

Here a ferrofluid climbs a spiral steel structure sitting on an electromagnet. Magnetic field lines emanating from the sculpture’s edges tend to push the ferrofluid out into long spikes–part of the normal field instability–but surface tension resists. The short, somewhat squat spikes we see are the balance struck between these opposing forces. Though known for their wild appearance, ferrofluids appear many in common applications, including hard drives, speakers, and MRI contrast agents. Researchers have also recently suggested they might help understand the behavior of the multiverse. (Photo credit: P. Davis et al.)

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