Saturday science subject: The time fountain

— 4:10 PM on August 12, 2006

We may not have the technology to slow down time at will quite yet (unless you count Keanu Reeves) but Nathan True from Lynnwood, Washington has invented a device that creates a pretty good illusion of it. The invention, which he calls the Time Fountain, uses strobing ultraviolet LEDs, a fluorescent liquid, and a carefully timed electric pump to seemingly change the speed of falling water droplets. The illusion derives from the fact that, in Nathan's words, "strobe lights can 'capture' an instant in time and allow your eyes to see it as lasting longer than an instant." There's a video of the fountain over on YouTube, and the effect does look rather convincing.

If you'd like to build your very own Time Fountain, Nate provides some instructions on his page. For those among us who aren't electrical engineering buffs, there's even an eBay auction with five Time Fountains for sale, although they're already at $350 a pop with four days still to go with the auction.

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