Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Watch: A Mind-Bending Experiment That Makes Water "Freeze" In Mid-Air

Everyone’s favorite YouTube scientist is back with a video that illustrates the relationship between frequency and frame speed.

Watch: A Mind-Bending Experiment That Makes Water "Freeze" In Mid-Air

Brusspup is the closest thing YouTube has to a wizard magician. Almost a million people subscribe to his channel, where he regularly posts videos of optical illusions and natural phenomena, which he then explains with "science" or whatever.

His latest video takes on a phenomenon we’ve written about before, in which water seems to "freeze" in the air. What’s actually happening? It has to do with both the camera and what’s coming out of the speaker. Brusspup attaches the hose to the subwoofer, through which he plays a 24hz frequency. The vibration makes the water coming out of the spigot oscillate at 24hz. If you were looking at it in real life, it wouldn’t look like much. That’s where the camera comes in: He’s filming the stream at 24 frames per second, which means that the droplets are captured in unison with the frame rate.

Imagine you’re at a show lit by strobe lights (because you’re so cool!) that flash once per second. The light only catches half of whatever you’re doing every second, so theoretically, you could be going crazy when it’s dark and acting normal when it’s light. No one would know what happened during those dark half-seconds. Same thing here, but much faster—we’re watching what’s happening every 41 milliseconds.

Hundreds of YouTube commenters want Brusspup to start "designing fountains," but alas, you wouldn’t see anything if you looked at this experiment in real life. However, it’s possible to replicate the effect for the naked eye using a strobe light synched to the frequency—as artist Matt Kenyon did in this installation last year.

[H/t Colossal]