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Fashion: Jewelry
Belousov-Zhabotinsky Jewellery   (+8, -3)  [vote for, against]
Would have been great during the 60s

A Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction is one that oscillates between two (or potentially more) almost-stable states - when run in a petri dish, the reaction will start off looking like a series of coloured spots, which grow before turning into rings, merging into one another, sprouting more concentric rings and generating a dynamic and self-sustaining pattern.

This would look great as a pendant, or in all manner of scintillating jewellery.
-- zen_tom, Mar 04 2009

Because [zen-tom] couldn't be bothered
[coprocephalous, Mar 04 2009]

Conway's T-Shirt Conway's T-Shirt
Idea spawned from [nineteenthly]'s comment. [zen_tom, Mar 04 2009]

Refractive width bacteria make glittery liquid gems Refractive width ba...littery liquid gems
[beanangel]'s original idea, wot I stole [zen_tom, Mar 04 2009]

Yes, it's great. There could be some extras as well. For instance, could there be cellular automata involved? Imagine a dot matrix display containing the appropriate liquids which could interact with each other, where a name or slogan is initially displayed, but which then breaks down in a "Life" sort of way before returning to the original text.
-- nineteenthly, Mar 04 2009

Thanks [copro] it's not that I couldn't be bothered (honestly!) I'm not allowed to look at YouTube from work, and the Wikipedia article I looked at didn't have any appropriately pretty pictures - hopefully you've linked to something suitably pleasing!

[19thly] yes - I suppose these kinds of reaction (when spread out over 2 dimensions) are a sort of molecular implementation of cellular automata - but you could probably create a larger version in t-shirt form - which would be super cool!
-- zen_tom, Mar 04 2009

-- FlyingToaster, Mar 04 2009

The problem is that the reaction doesn't continue for very long - it's an overall decay, which drives an oscillation as a side-reaction. So, your jewellery wouldn't scintillate for long. Another problem is that the B-Z reaction is quite pale - videos and photographs tend to be contrast-enhanced to exaggerate the effect. It's very pretty, but you would be hard pressed to see it in a small piece of jewellery.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 04 2009

//the reaction doesn't continue for very long// In an ideal situation the reaction continues indefinitely. It's easily modelled in Matlab for example. So you can get permanent coolness if you use digital display wear rather than damp tissue smelling of potassium bromate. Hehe, never thought I would see this again outside computational biology class. +
-- placid_turmoil, Mar 05 2009

// In an ideal situation the reaction continues indefinitely.// I can assure you it doesn't. There are a series of chemical reactions which, overall, are exothermic and just eventually run down. There is a cycle associated with the reactions, but the overall process basically runs down as it consumes the reagents, even in an 'ideal situation'.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2009

Looking through my notes, it seems you're right. I implemented a very stylised cousin of BZ based on a reaction-diffusion model by Barkley et al [Phys. Rev. A 42, 2489 (1990)]. Just use that one, it won't run out of steam ;)
-- placid_turmoil, Mar 05 2009

random, halfbakery