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February 3, 2018

Somebody invented a ferrofluid lava lamp, and it’s as awesome as it sounds

by John_A

Regular lava lamps haven’t been unironically cool in decades, but technologists keep finding new and exciting ways to update them for the 21st century. Recently, we covered the way that Silicon Valley-based web performance and security company Cloudflare is using a wall of lava lamps as a crucial step in its encryption processes. Now, another enterprising engineer has reinvented the lava lamp by adding a dose of everyone’s favorite magnetized liquid rocket fuel, ferrofluid.

Freshly arrived on Kickstarter, “The Rocket” is an appropriately rocket-shaped lava lamp, which replaces the regular wax in lava lamps with ferrofluid. Invented by NASA in the early 1960s, ferrofluid exhibits both regular liquid properties, as well as the bizarre ability to be manipulated by a magnetic field. When it comes into contact with a magnet, the tiny solid particles of magnetic material in ferrofluid cause the mass of black liquid to move towards it, creating weird geometric spiking patterns in the process.

In the case of a lava lamp, this means that it behaves like a regular wax lava lamp — but with the added benefit that it’s interactive, since you can use an ordinary magnet to push, pull or spike the lava that’s inside.

“I love ferrofluid because it appeals to anybody with a curious mind,” creator Kyle Haines told Digital Trends. “People always try to break down who would like this into demographics, but I’ve introduced a lot of different types of people to ferrofluid and the one common denominator to me is curiosity. Of course geeky types like it, but so do art teachers and people with zero background in science.”

While all Kickstarter campaigns carry a degree of risk on the part of investors, Haines points out that he has been selling ferrofluid gadgets — including a generation one lava lamp, minus the rocket shape — for several years. As part of this campaign, he has also created a ferrofluid glowing alien head, which is all kinds of cool.

If you would like to make a pledge to the campaign, head over to the project’s Kickstarter page now. A small bottle containing ferrofluid will set you back a mere $19, a glowing alien head is $49, and the rocket-shaped lava lamp starts at $74. A $99 version comes with added ferrofluid. Supplies of each are limited to 100, though, so make your move quickly.

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