Light & Color

Convection Currents

A small heater is immersed in a thin vertical tank of water. This tank sits between a point light source and a screen. When the heater is turned on, the water nearby heats and rises due to convection. This is easily visible on the screen because the heated water refracts the light from the point source differently than its neighboring water (heated water is less dense and hence refracts less.) A beautiful display of the convection results. The light source can be slid closer to or further from the tank, changing the magnification of the projected image.