Cloud Box desired. Please help :)
December 31, 2012 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Help me find or make a cloud in a box. By a cloud I mean a "A visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the ground." By a box I mean something that can fit on a desktop. The inspiration came from this art installation.

Ideally this cloud in a box would have the ability to be easily renewed. Sadly aerogel is not in my budget.
posted by rdurbin to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Clouds in jars
posted by xingcat at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

That's not Aerogel and I'm not sure why Colossal said that it was (I think he was looking at the material details for the separate "Cumulus" piece by the same artist). From the video it seems that it's just a regular fog machine, where the fog is lit from behind and photographed at the precise moment that it looks like a cloud. It would be difficult to replicate this on your desk -- maybe Hans Haacke's Condensation Cube would be a better work of contemporary art to base this on.

You can buy a very small piece (1 inch square) of Aerogel for sixty dollars, which might give you more cloud for your buck than some kind of fog emitting contraption.
posted by theodolite at 9:29 AM on December 31, 2012

Hey theodolite -- the artist pointed me in the direction of the Smithsonian article when I was putting the piece together, so I'm pretty sure he's using some form of aerogel?
posted by joinks at 9:36 AM on December 31, 2012

I think whoever wrote the Smithsonian post was confusing or conflating Nimbus with Cumulus, an earlier piece by Smilde that clearly incorporates Aerogel, which is solid and blue in color. It's visible about halfway down this page. The fog/clouds in Nimbus don't resemble Aerogel. In fact, the quote from Smilde directly after Aerogel is mentioned says "I make the clouds using a combination of smoke, moisture and the right backlighting," i.e., not using Aerogel.
posted by theodolite at 9:47 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you watch the video, it's definitely not aerogel. Aerogel is a solid.
posted by Grither at 9:48 AM on December 31, 2012

Fair enough, fixed!

And rdurbin, to your question, also check out this series of photographs from my friend Paul.
posted by joinks at 9:54 AM on December 31, 2012

How about a puff of cotton with some lightning hidden inside it, like this? (I'm cranky because I'd wanted to make something like that for years, but never actually did it!)
posted by moonmilk at 10:11 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hmm. I might have to go the cotton route. It has the best chance of actually getting completed. That MAKE cloud is pretty awesome, thanks. Here is another DIY cloud project I found.
posted by rdurbin at 11:44 AM on December 31, 2012

I hope you'll post your cloud-in-a-box here when it's done!
posted by moonmilk at 12:50 PM on December 31, 2012

Would the chemistry/physics of a lava lamp be useful here...?
posted by notyou at 3:17 PM on December 31, 2012

This is not what you asked for, but since you have found an answer, I feel okay in offering this alternative form of cloud chamber which fits your ease-of-renewal criterion: Andy Foland's Cloud Chamber

This is a version of the cloud chambers used to detect subatomic particles in cyclotrons and the like. Those ones use hydrogen diffused through a fluid, while this one uses vaporized isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol-- the pure stuff, where your bottle of rubbing alcohol is the same stuff in diluted form) to make a volume of visible vapor. If it works as advertised, you should see the trails of cosmic rays zipping through your chamber.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:21 PM on December 31, 2012

Did you notice the "bottled sky" item at the aeroGel site? I wonder what the liquid is.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 6:43 PM on December 31, 2012

Ultrasonic vaporizer
posted by flabdablet at 8:58 AM on January 1, 2013

Just found this - kenetic art - Levitating cloud using cotton and magnets
posted by rdurbin at 6:30 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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