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Researchers solve mystery of odd behavior by droplets of food coloring (2015) (stanford.edu)
40 points by allthebest 15 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

I hate these pointless analogies in popular science reporting. "droplets of fluid will move like performers in a dance choreographed" -- it may sound good to the writer but it just comes across as pretentious and does not help explain anything. In general those facile analogies do in fact make things muddier. The only exceptions is when they are stated along with how they are different from the phenomenon being described. Here, no point, except to pad the word count I guess.

I agree, it would be nice if they just explained where the energy comes from and how it flows to drive this, imho the most interesting question. But I guess "a mystery" draws a bigger public. For me it just means frustration after watching the movie.

I guess it's a difference in the target audience. They're writing for the people who will look at it and exclaim, "oh, how beautiful deep and profound this Science is".

Myself, I look at science articles with questions that boil down to "how can we make use of it to build something cool?". I look for explanations, even coarse, of what's going on - what are the critical conditions that need to be preserved for the phenomenon to appear? What are the hard constraints? So yeah, I prefer less artistic but confusing analogies.

I think you are right. These are marketing pieces, not journals. I do not think that's not bad at all. I am certain the journal article for this story satisfies demands of rigor.

But I like being able to take this piece to my 10 year-old who may focus her 5th grade science project on yogurt and getting her inspired to be curious about the fluids she plays with every day.

Exactly, I mean you can just add a small animation of how evaporation in 1 component is faster and pushes the two-bubble structure in one direction. It runs untill it gets too cold (endothermic reaction). Or something like that.. but correct ;)

Brb buying propylene glycol!

Turns out there are vape-shops that sell the glycol, the water, and the paraphernalia to mix them! There is some food coloring left from the last party. Will have to source some glass plates still :-)

The pg is already in the food coloring. What you need are differential evaporation rates, so I would experiment with mixing water and/or alcohol with one color and then leave the other alone.

You can do this with milk and liquid food coloring. Our kids do it at nursery school.

Wonder if you could make a cellular automata with this.

The blobs look a lot like gliders in smoothlife:


Or the haploscutinae in Lenia:


Or real keratocyte fragments, but i can't find a video of those.

It is a cellular automaton.

Molecular scale lava lamps?

Finally, an upgrade path for lava lamp entropy generation.


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