Lava Lamp

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A cultural icon of the 1960s is resurrected in digital form. Functions to generate a lava lamp animation are presented, and some alternate embodiments of lava are discussed. In a lava lamp, heat provided by the lamp causes density changes in the lava. As the lava heats, a buoyancy force stretches the lava in the vertical direction until it breaks into two parts. One part continues moving upward while the other part cools and sinks to the bottom. After breaking apart, both pieces undergo a radial oscillation. Since modeling the physics of the lava is a formidable task, observation is used here to construct the graphics.

Contributed by: Jan Mangaldan and Jerald Martel (March 2011)
Based on a program by: Robert Rudd
Additional contributions by: Jeff Bryant
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


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