Swiss artist and photographer Fabian Oefner illuminates the beauty and complexity of science by, among other things, capturing crystals dancing atop a speaker and lighting whiskey on fire. 

Aurora No. 01 (2013)
Aurora No. 01 (2013)

This image illustrates the combustion of alcohol. A flame is stopped in time as it travels through a glass bottle containing whiskey and oxygen.

Dancing Colors “The Pillar” (2013)
Dancing Colors “The Pillar” (2013)

This is a visualization of sound. Colored crystals leap from the surface of a speaker as it emits sound waves.

Aurora No. 01 (2013)
Aurora No. 01 (2013)

This image illustrates the combustion of alcohol. A flame is stopped in time as it travels through a glass bottle containing whiskey and oxygen.

Millefiori No. 01 (2012)
Millefiori No. 01 (2012)

Ferrofluid is a magnetic, hydrophobic liquid that forms colorful curves and channels when deposited onto a magnet and injected with watercolor paints.

Dancing Colors “The Pillar” (2013)
Dancing Colors “The Pillar” (2013)

This is a visualization of sound. Colored crystals leap from the surface of a speaker as it emits sound waves.

Grain of Scent (2013)
Grain of Scent (2013)

Tiny individual droplets of a liquid mixed with spray paint hang in the air for a fraction of a second, forming a scent sculpture.

Millefiori No. 01 (2012)
Millefiori No. 01 (2012)

Ferrofluid is a magnetic, hydrophobic liquid that forms colorful curves and channels when deposited onto a magnet and injected with watercolor paints.

Marbelous No. 05 (2013)
Marbelous No. 05 (2013)

An unusual look at the properties of oil, as colorful marbles of oil paint float in a solution of water and methylated spirits.

Grain of Scent (2013)
Grain of Scent (2013)

Tiny individual droplets of a liquid mixed with spray paint hang in the air for a fraction of a second, forming a scent sculpture.

Black Hole No. 07 (2013)
Black Hole No. 07 (2013)

An illustration of centrifugal force. Paint whirls outward from a metal rod attached to a spinning power drill.

Marbelous No. 05 (2013)
Marbelous No. 05 (2013)

An unusual look at the properties of oil, as colorful marbles of oil paint float in a solution of water and methylated spirits.

Black Hole No. 07 (2013)
Black Hole No. 07 (2013)

An illustration of centrifugal force. Paint whirls outward from a metal rod attached to a spinning power drill.

Iridient No. 03 (2012)
Iridient No. 03 (2012)

A floating soap bubble is captured at the moment it bursts and surface tension is broken.

Iridient No. 03 (2012)
Iridient No. 03 (2012)

A floating soap bubble is captured at the moment it bursts and surface tension is broken.

Nebula No. 10 (2011)
Nebula No. 10 (2011)

This is a $10 illusion of the universe. The glowing ends of a fiberglass lamp are swirled to create the likeness of stars and galaxies using long exposure photography.

Nebula No. 10 (2011)
Nebula No. 10 (2011)

This is a $10 illusion of the universe. The glowing ends of a fiberglass lamp are swirled to create the likeness of stars and galaxies using long exposure photography.

Blue Danube (2013)
Blue Danube (2013)

Light breaks at the grooves in the tracks of a vinyl record.

Blue Danube (2013)
Blue Danube (2013)

Light breaks at the grooves in the tracks of a vinyl record.

Vanishing Beauty (2012)
Vanishing Beauty (2012)

Powders can behave like fluids. Here, corn starch hangs in the air momentarily, retaining its shape, as the balloon surrounding it is popped.

Vanishing Beauty (2012)
Vanishing Beauty (2012)

Powders can behave like fluids. Here, corn starch hangs in the air momentarily, retaining its shape, as the balloon surrounding it is popped.

Images courtesy of the artist.

Swiss photographer Fabian Oefner captures vibrant, almost psychedelic images inspired by science but appreciated as art. In June 2013, he explained to the crowd at TEDGlobal how he nabbed the moment when a soap bubble burst, caught the poetic dance of tiny crystals atop a speaker (in 3,000 frames per second), lit whiskey on fire, and experimented with ferrafluid, the oily black liquid of metallic particles that morphs when exposed to a magnet.

Oefner’s art is based on simple science: sound waves, magnetism, the physical properties of substances. But his complex, beautiful, and puzzling photographs illuminate how science is anything but straightforward. We hope you love what you see. We sure do!

Watch his talk at TEDGlobal:

Read more about his work.

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