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  • An image is worth more than a thousand words,

  • so I'm going to start my talk

  • by stop talking and show you a few images

  • that I recently captured.

  • So by now, my talk is already 6,000 words long,

  • and I feel like I should stop here.

  • (Laughter)

  • At the same time, I probably owe you

  • some explanation

  • about the images that you just saw.

  • What I am trying to do as a photographer,

  • as an artist, is to bring the world

  • of art and science together.

  • Whether it is an image of a soap bubble

  • captured at the very moment where it's bursting,

  • as you can see in this image,

  • whether it's a universe made of tiny little beads

  • of oil paint,

  • strange liquids that behave in very peculiar ways,

  • or paint that is modeled by centrifugal forces,

  • I'm always trying to link those two fields together.

  • What I find very intriguing about those two

  • is that they both look at the same thing:

  • They are a response to their surroundings.

  • And yet, they do it in a very different way.

  • If you look at science on one hand,

  • science is a very rational approach

  • to its surroundings,

  • whereas art on the other hand

  • is usually an emotional approach to its surroundings.

  • What I am trying to do is I'm trying

  • to bring those two views into one

  • so that my images both speak to the viewer's heart

  • but also to the viewer's brain.

  • Let me demonstrate this based on three projects.

  • The first one has to do with making sound visible.

  • Now as you may know,

  • sound travels in waves,

  • so if you have a speaker,

  • a speaker actually does nothing else

  • than taking the audio signal,

  • transform it into a vibration,

  • which is then transported through the air,

  • is captured by our ear,

  • and transformed into an audio signal again.

  • Now I was thinking,

  • how can I make those sound waves visible?

  • So I came up with the following setup.

  • I took a speaker, I placed a thin foil

  • of plastic on top of that speaker,

  • and then I added tiny little crystals

  • on top of that speaker.

  • And now, if I would play a sound through that speaker,

  • it would cause the crystals to move up and down.

  • Now this happens very fast,

  • in the blink of an eye,

  • so, together with LG, we captured this motion

  • with a camera that is able

  • to capture more than 3,000 frames per second.

  • Let me show you what this looks like.

  • (Music: "Teardrop" by Massive Attack)

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you very much.

  • I agree, it looks pretty amazing.

  • But I have to tell you a funny story.

  • I got an indoor sunburn doing this

  • while shooting in Los Angeles.

  • Now in Los Angeles, you could get a decent sunburn

  • just on any of the beaches,

  • but I got mine indoors,

  • and what happened is that,

  • if you're shooting at 3,000 frames per second,

  • you need to have a silly amount of light, lots of lights.

  • So we had this speaker set up,

  • and we had the camera facing it,

  • and lots of lights pointing at the speaker,

  • and I would set up the speaker,

  • put the tiny little crystals on top of that speaker,

  • and we would do this over and over again,

  • and it was until midday that I realized

  • that I had a completely red face

  • because of the lights pointing at the speaker.

  • What was so funny about it was that

  • the speaker was only coming from the right side,

  • so the right side of my face was completely red

  • and I looked like the Phantom of the Opera

  • for the rest of the week.

  • Let me now turn to another project

  • which involves less harmful substances.

  • Has anyone of you heard of ferrofluid?

  • Ah, some of you have. Excellent.

  • Should I skip that part?

  • (Laughter)

  • Ferrofluid has a very strange behavior.

  • It's a liquid that is completely black.

  • It's got an oily consistency.

  • And it's got tiny little particles of metal in it,

  • which makes it magnetic.

  • So if I now put this liquid into a magnetic field,

  • it would change its appearance.

  • Now I've got a live demonstration over here

  • to show this to you.

  • So I've got a camera pointing down at this plate,

  • and underneath that plate, there is a magnet.

  • Now I'm going to add some of that ferrofluid

  • to that magnet.

  • Let's just slightly move it to the right

  • and maybe focus it a little bit more. Excellent.

  • So what you can see now is that

  • the ferrofluid has formed spikes.

  • This is due to the attraction and the repulsion

  • of the individual particles inside the liquid.

  • Now this looks already quite interesting,

  • but let me now add some watercolors to it.

  • Those are just standard watercolors

  • that you would paint with.

  • You wouldn't paint with syringes,

  • but it works just the same.

  • So what happened now is,

  • when the watercolor was flowing into the structure,

  • the watercolors do not mix with the ferrofluid.

  • That's because the ferrofluid itself

  • is hydrophobic.

  • That means it doesn't mix with the water.

  • And at the same time, it tries to maintain its position

  • above the magnet,

  • and therefore, it creates those amazing-looking

  • structures of channels and tiny little ponds

  • of colorful water paint.

  • So that was the second project.

  • Let me now turn to the last project,

  • which involves

  • the national beverage of Scotland.

  • (Laughter)

  • This image, and also this one,

  • were made using whiskey.

  • Now you might ask yourself,

  • how did he do that?

  • Did he drink half a bottle of whiskey

  • and then draw the hallucination he got

  • from being drunk onto paper?

  • I can assure you I was fully conscious

  • while I was taking those pictures.

  • Now, whiskey contains 40 percent of alcohol,

  • and alcohol has got some very interesting properties.

  • Maybe you have experienced

  • some of those properties before,

  • but I am talking about the physical properties,

  • not the other ones.

  • So when I open the bottle, the alcohol molecules

  • would spread in the air,

  • and that's because alcohol is a very volatile substance.

  • And at the same time, alcohol is highly flammable.

  • And it was with those two properties

  • that I was able to create the images

  • that you're seeing right now.

  • Let me demonstrate this over here.

  • And what I have here is an empty glass vessel.

  • It's got nothing in it.

  • And now I'm going to fill it with oxygen

  • and whiskey.

  • Add some more.

  • Now we just wait for a few seconds

  • for the molecules to spread inside the bottle.

  • And now, let's set that on fire.

  • (Laughter)

  • So that's all that happens.

  • It goes really fast, and it's not that impressive.

  • I could do it again to show it one more time,

  • but some would argue that this is a complete waste

  • of the whiskey, and that I should rather drink it.

  • But let me show you a slow motion

  • in a completely darkened room

  • of what I just showed you in this live demonstration.

  • So what happened is that the flame

  • traveled through the glass vessel from top to bottom,

  • burning the mix of the air molecules

  • and the alcohol.

  • So the images that you saw at the beginning,

  • they are actually a flame stopped in time

  • while it is traveling through the bottle,

  • and you have to imagine

  • it was flipped around 180 degrees.

  • So that's how those images were made.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • So, I have now showed you three projects,

  • and you might ask yourself, what is it good for?

  • What's the idea behind it?

  • Is it just a waste of whiskey?

  • Is it just some strange materials?

  • Those three projects, they're based on very simple

  • scientific phenomena,

  • such as magnetism, the sound waves,

  • or over here, the physical properties of a substance,

  • and what I'm trying to do

  • is I'm trying to use these phenomena

  • and show them in a poetic and unseen way,

  • and therefore invite the viewer

  • to pause for a moment

  • and think about all the beauty

  • that is constantly surrounding us.

  • Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

An image is worth more than a thousand words,

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B1 US TED speaker ferrofluid whiskey alcohol paint

【TED】Psychedelic Science | Fabian Oefner | TED Talks

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    Amy.Lin posted on 2017/05/09
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