NEW FEATURE: VOTE & EARN NEATOPOINTS!
Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

Neil Fraser wondered if a lava lamp would still work in the higher gravity environment of Jupiter. How such a question ever occurs to anyone is a matter of wonder in itself, but Fraser went ahead and built a ten-foot wide centrifuge in his living room to conduct the experiment to answer his question.
The centrifuge is a genuinely terrifying device. The lights dim when it is switched on. A strong wind is produced as the centrifuge induces a cyclone in the room. The smell of boiling insulation emanates from the overloaded 25 amp cables. If not perfectly adjusted and lubricated, it will shred the teeth off solid brass gears in under a second. Runs were conducted from the relative safety of the next room while peeking through a crack in the door.
Highlight this text for a spoiler: Yes, the lava lamp worked in 3G. Link -via Digg

That's pretty cool. We also now know that video cameras work on Jupiter.
One possible fly in the ointment: Lava lamps work based on heat rising against the downward force of gravity.
In this experiment the heat is rising perpendicular to the force of the simulated gravity.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
michaelb1, it's not heat that is rising but less dense material. If a material were to contract when heated and become more dense (a few do) then it would sink.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
there must be applications for this. Why do it? I'm asking an honest question here. Really cool experiment but what would be the point (besides just that it's cool)?
thanks! ;)
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Yeah, this is a dumb idea and couldn't possibly answer the question. Gravitational force is DOWNWARD. Centrifugal force is perpendicular to the downward force. All that you've established is that a lava lamp will operate when a centrifugal AND a gravitational force is applied to it. Surely someone with the ability to build such a centrifuge should have the brains to see that in the design phase.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Kevin G, the way the lamp is aligned, centrifugal force does appear to be acting as gravity would. Your claim that gravity operates DOWNWARDS really means "towards the center of the attracting mass". In this case, the centrifugal force generated by spinning the lava lamp ever so speedily, generates G forces of over 2 times Earth's gravity (as can be seen on the iPhone). This does indeed mimic the effect of gravity.

Now, if the center of mass of a massive item is above your head, then gravity is operating UPWARDS. If you align the centrifuge differently, then it is not operating perpendicular to the gravitational force. But in any case, the G meter in the iPhone does read out over 2 Gs.

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Perhaps Kevin didn't realise that the lamp was in a pivoting cradle, as the centrifige ramped up, it pivotted out to the horizontal plane thus the "G" force was aligned along the vertical (now horizontal) axis of the lamp, same as happens in a nasa centrifuge for example, just smaller.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The genius of this rig is the pivoting cradle. You have both gravity and the centrifugal force acting on the lava lamp, so it wouldn't be directly horizontal, but rotated slightly when you add the two vectors together.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I was just waiting for someone to walk through that door and get whacked in the kneecaps. THEN it would have officially been an internet video.

Interesting nevertheless!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
why does it work at all?

i mean, don't centrifuges work to sort all the items in the container by density? why dont' we see all lava and medium sort into layers
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Scientists scare me sometimes o.0 The way he describes the centrifuge, I would be terrified to be around it, much less hook my data phone up to it.

So lava lamps WOULD work on Jupiter. The more you know *shooting star*
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
loupgarou - that's the whole point - lava lamps work by having two imiscible liquids which are very close in density. So close that when the waxy one is cool it's more dense than the liquid and when warm it's less dense.
Changing the strength of gravity won't change the /relative/ densities, so as long as there's still some gravity it will work. What would stop it working is an absence of gravity - then there'd be no incentive for the two liquids to move to top and bottom.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
A pivoting cradle is standard for a centrifuge, BTW.
I hadn't realized you could get a phone to display gravity, though.
And it's Meccano, not Erector Sets.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
You are damn lucky the cooling air did not create a temperature difference between one side of the glass and other, because it would have exploded, and your room would have been covered in smoking hot oil.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)

Email This Post to a Friend
"A Lava Lamp on Jupiter"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window
X