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This video shows a cool trick involving a powerful electromagnet and balls with controlled electromagnets inside them. The result looks very cool. According to the video, the balls are controlled by a computer, which is what allows for the intricate patterns.

From a physics standpoint this video looks fake, though. It wouldn't be easy to control them as shown (they would likely all be attracted to the magnet due to the inverse square law), and a number of things are wrong - for example, no shadow is cast by the ball statue. It would be far easier to produce this through a video editing program.

But is it fake, or not?

As I speak it is going viral. I checked five minutes ago and it has gained about 2,000 views.

  • I can't say whether it's fake or not but one of your observations is incorrect. At the 0:53 second mark the balls do cast a shadow on the floor. There is a light source on a desk to the right/behind the balls. – Legion600 Jun 13 '11 at 23:01
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    Tori (of Mythbusters fame) tweeted his opinion on the subject: "I don't think this is real, but it's cool." I can fathom a scenario where the effect is plausible but there really isn't much information in the video about what is actually happening. – MrHen Jun 13 '11 at 23:15
  • Ebay keep an item number for 60 days after a purchase. However 17 days after that, the scrapyard knife was sold so these two can not coexist. Video is fake. – user3618 Jun 14 '11 at 13:10
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    F*ck'n Magnets, How Do They Work? – ESultanik Jun 14 '11 at 13:40
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    The video itself is fake. The principle behind it... plausible. I can create a single ball levitator that works as the video describes. Making many balls do the same thing would be rather more complex though, since the magnetic field wouldn't be trivial. Further, the tiny power supply in the balls would not be sufficient to maintain a long period of levitation - part of the trick would be to create an external field strong enough that the balls would be nearly weightless in the region of action. Such a field would undoubtedly cause problem for nearby electronics and ferrous metals. – Adam Davis Jun 14 '11 at 20:31
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In the video, at the 0:06 second mark, there is a shot of an eBay auction for a "Scrapyard-like HUGE ELECTROMAGNET".

It has an eBay item number of 260750939029.

However, the real eBay auction with that item number is for a WAKI Kydex Sheath SCRAPIZASHI SCIZZY SCRAPYARD KNIFE.

This shows that, if nothing else, the eBay auction page was faked.

13

Fake.

This video was created by the CGI/post company Physalia:

Physalia is a motion-graphics and visual effects studio based in Barcelona.

and was created for a short film festival. From their website:

"Happy" was the theme we were given by the organizers for this year's F5 Re:Play Fest, held in April in NYC, to create this edition's pieces, probably the hardest thing to convey in any artistic expression. After a good deal of introspection, and teaming up with awesome motion graphics artist Gerardo del Hierro, we decided that happy wasn't happy for Physalia unless pliers, microchips and a bit of soldering were involved, and with this idea we resolved to create the happiest machine Physalia has built to date.

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    Nice try, but your citations don't actually corroborate or disprove this. I've seen far more complex patterns from ferrofluid, so the demonstration is certainly plausible. youtube.com/watch?v=fpI4EiGACo8 – Robert Harvey Jun 14 '11 at 2:37
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    @Robert so you think these people that are experts at digital manipulation of video would dabble in complicated electronics and electromagnetics just to produce a short video? I'm not saying it's not possible in general, but the simplest explanation is... I don't know what more proof one could expect. – John Lyon Jun 14 '11 at 2:41
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    @Robert additionally, in the video at 23 seconds you can see the man working in Adobe After Effects (popular video post-production software) on a frame containing the balls under the electromagnet. Additionally, they operate laptops around the magnet while it is operational. I also don't think the communications electronics inside the balls would operate while the large magnet is active. – John Lyon Jun 14 '11 at 2:53
  • Your last comment is more convincing. – Robert Harvey Jun 14 '11 at 2:57

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