Turbulent Orb

by Ned Kahn


This glass sphere is filled with fluid. Spin it slowly to see smooth streamlines; spin it quickly to make turbulent ripples and swirls.

If you could follow one tiny blob of fluid as it moved through these swirls, you would see it perform a random dance-moving slowly, then quickly, first in one direction, then in another.

Patterns created by flowing liquids can show up in many places and on many scales, from the swirls of cream stirred into a cup of tea to the clouds that move with the earth's atmosphere.


Dimensions: 34" x 54" x 30" Weight: 220 lbs.


Artists Statement: The confluence of science and art has fascinated me throughout my career. For the last fifteen years, I have developed a body of work inspired by atmospheric physics, geology, astronomy, and fluid motion. I strive to create artworks that enable viewers to observe and interact with natural processes. I am less interested in creating an alternative reality than I am in capturing, through my art, the mysteriousness of the world around us.

My artworks frequently incorporate flowing water, fog, sand, 
and light to create complex and continually changing systems. 
Many of these works can be seen as "observatories" in that they 
frame and enhance our perception of natural phenomena. I am 
intrigued with the way patterns can emerge when things flow. 
These patterns are not static objects, they are patterns of 
behavior-recurring themes in the repertoire of nature.


(c) The Exploratorium, 1996