Oil Creatures Great And Small

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Behold: a truly bizarre recent discovery by a team of scientists in Bulgaria, Poland, the UK and China.

It seems – when ordinary oil droplets floating in soapy water are cooled to around 2-8°C – they change shape, grow tentacles and propel themselves around like sentient marine life. To wit:

Some of the particles’ facets grow while other shrink, producing a variety of geometrical forms such as kites, isosceles triangles and spiked tetrahedra. Then, from some of the sharp corners emerge tentacle-like strands, as if being extruded from a nozzle. As they grow, the strands bend into undulating shapes — and the droplets start to swim, propelled through the fluid by the tentacles’ extension.

kottke

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