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Programmable Zen rock garden

If a stone shifts in the garden and no one sees it, did it really move?
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Zen rock gardens. Permanently impermanent, fluidly static. [link]
Ya gotta love'm.

Okay maybe you don't, but I do, and I would like to make a Zen rock garden entirely from pieces of magnetite, [link], above a tightly packed grid of programmable electromagnetic coils.
By controlling the current, polarity and power of each coil the swirling ridges and troughs could be manipulated at will allowing for a different look to the garden each time you glance at it.
What I would really like to see though is moving and shifting patterns in the stones. Like ripples from the center of the garden spreading outwards to converge back on themselves or undulating serpents perpetually devouring their own tails or...well there really is no end to the designs which could be created.
Or is there?


http://www.mchenry....pages/Magnetite.htm [2 fries shy of a happy meal, Dec 13 2006]

Agri-Droids http://www.wired.co...mobile-farm-robots/
[swimswim, Nov 14 2011]

Not exactly the same but cool nonetheless. https://www.faceboo...os/354385828236386/
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Oct 02 2016]

[link]






       But what about bonsai?
Detly, Feb 19 2004
  

       2 Words that go well- Programmable and Zen....   

       Perhaps not.
xylene, Feb 19 2004
  

       Hmm, they might just all clump at that.
Playing around with it in my head it seemed that by changing the strength of the magnetic fields, the clumps would follow the paths of greatest attraction, or begin climbing themselves in a cone shape wherever an individual coils' field protruded the farthest.
  

       Iron ball bearings maybe?   

       Ball bearings would be incredibly loud.   

       "Hey, wanna see something cool? Watch the rock garden." [click] GDDDDD SHHHHSDDDH HHHHHSDH HHHHHHH "ISN'T IT GREAT?" GDSHHHHH "WHAT?"   

       I wonder what a mercury rock garden would look like...
Abusementpark, Dec 10 2006
  

       Probably watery.   

       Probably mercurial.
spidermother, Nov 12 2011
  

       and not a mention of custard in all its glory.
po, Nov 13 2011
  

       You could certainly do this with ferrofluid. My guess is that iron filings would work too, but you'd have a much harder time moving them around. You can only apply an attractive force, as far as I can see, and that force will drop as the inverse- something of distance, and friction between the particles will be huge, so you might have problems moving a six-inch ripple around.   

       But ferrofluid would be cool. You could create "slow motion" effects, where by a set of ripples (generated only by the magnetic forces) could be made to radiate from a central point with any degree of slowness you liked.   

       You could even create inverse ripples, starting from the edges and slowly converging on the centre.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 14 2011
  

       This is a great idea [+]. An alternative with lower zen content would be to use two agri-droids (link); one to move the rocks around and the other to re-rake the sand and eliminate any droid or rock tracks. (This is assuming the rock garden is a big, backyard-sized rock garden, not one of those desktop thingies.)
swimswim, Nov 14 2011
  

       For practicality (a purely hypothetical concept in my life) I'd spread the pebbles on a rubbery, trampoline-type surface then have rollers underneath provide the undulations. Might even create a soothing sound like gentle waves lapping on a pebbly beach.
AusCan531, Nov 14 2011
  

       I like the mercury idea because the magnetite would float in it.
lurch, Oct 02 2016
  

       Wonder if it's possible to do a pocket beach? The sand would be easy but getting the tiny waves right could be a bugger...and a small fan blowing ozoney, seaweedy smells.
not_morrison_rm, Oct 02 2016
  
      
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