Water Spirals

What do you think of when you see this video:

  1. Magic? 
  2. Witchcraft? 
  3. Trickery?
  4. Science? 

If you answered 1 or 2, I’m sorry, that’s the wrong answer. If you answered 4, with a little bit of 3 thrown in there, huzzah, you’re correct! What you’re seeing here is a direct result of science and camera and light trickery.

To explain what’s going on, you can check out the video below Read the description it gives, and, for a more in-depth analysis of the actual science, head on over to Bad Astronomy.

The basic gist of it is that you have the strobe light strobing at a slightly lower frequency than the vibration of the table on the oil. In the experiment with the water, the speakers are vibrating at 24 vibrations per second (or 24 Hz), and if you set the camera speed to 23 Hz, the water appears to move back up into the pipe. In the exhibition with oil experiment, the strobe light replaces the camera. You can see this illusion for yourself by looking at the hubs of car wheels (or bicycles) as they’re driving along.

I love how everyone talking at the exhibition is just utterly wrong with what they’re saying. Amuses me no end! Next time you see this illusion, you’ll be able to explain it to your friends, and I’m sure they’ll be mightily impressed! Unless they firmly believe it’s magic, in which case, get new friends. Onwards!

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