Field Works – Part 1

I initially considered building a bathtub-sized version of a magnetic field cube: a big clear tank full of a magnetorheological fluid, or else ferrofluid (on sale now for $230 USD/L!), with a hidden rotor built into its base (or else mounted on a teeter totter) to help re-randomize the distribution of the particles between applications of a large magnetic field. So, something like a Damien Hirst vitrine, but for field lines.

But why stop there? Imagine how beautiful it would be to build a colossal tank like this (I almost wrote “along these lines”) at, say, Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, where lightning strikes up to 40,000 times a night for half the year. Something truly massive, so that whenever the lightning struck, the iron filings (or magnetite nanoparticles, or whatever) would organize architectonically at cyclopean scales: the vaulting ribs of an electromagnetic cathedral, of an ephemeral planetary gothic.

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