Vortex Dome Rheoscopic Fluid Desk Toy
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The Vortex Dome is a science-packed desk toy that does for you eyes what fidget toys do for your hands. With a stainless steel and ball bearing spinning base, the Vortex Dome gets a little tactile stimulation in there too.
The star of this glass-covered desktop piece though is its gooey center: rheoscopic fluid. Rheoscopic fluid is a liquid compound consisting of tiny crystalline bits, such as mica or metallic flakes, suspended in a water or glycol stearate base. When agitated, it forms various types and degrees of currents, all of them visible, and sometimes hypnotic, thanks to the fluid's opacity and pearly luster.
Check out the video to see the Vortex Dome and its rheoscopic fluid doing their mesmerizing dance. It really started sucking me in at 0:37, and by 1:35 I was glad the only mind-altering substance I was on while watching it was coffee. Me + a Vortex Dome + oh I don't know, say, a coupla magic mushrooms = neurotransmitter tsunami. Since I wasn't high though, the Vortex Dome just made me want to go swim in the ocean.
Rheoscopic fluid is typically used in classroom settings to help students understand dynamic currents, such as convection and laminar flow. Vortex Dome creator David Fowler himself first saw a rheoscopic vortex at a science museum. Impressed, he looked to buy one of his own. Unsuccessful, he made it himself.
Through his Etsy shop Physics Hack Fowler sells the Vortex Domes with your choice of blue, green, gold, orange, or purple rheoscopic fluid inside.