Most of us associate liquid crystals with LCD computer monitors. You can get a peek of the crystals in that quick pop of rainbow that you see when you press your screen with your thumb. But when viewed under a microscope as they transform into different phases, the crystals that lie under our mundane monitors are a lively, trippy explosion of color and movement.
Musician Max Cooper set his new song “Music of the Tides” to footage of morphing, pulsating liquid crystals moving through phases, called mesophases. The result is a psychedelic trip, without the drugs.
The footage was taken by researcher Ben Outram at Oxford and Leeds Universities, and edited by Jennifer Tividad. Outram explains in the video’s description that here, what you’re seeing are the “flowing forms and transitions that liquid crystals undergo as they flow and undergo transitions between phases.”
He writes in the description of the video about the history and wonder of liquid crystal research:
Early researchers in liquid crystals thought that liquid crystals might be some form of life. In fact, liquid crystals lie somewhere between chemistry and biology. They are phases of matter that are simultaneously fluid and structured. Their colours and iridescence have been the wonder of those who have researched them, and they continue to surprise us with their flowing forms.
Looking at this footage, you can’t really blame researchers of the past for thinking liquid crystals were alive.