The Ultimate Lava Lamp Quiz


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

One of the coolest accessories you're likely to find in every teenager's and college student's bedroom is the mesmerizing liquid motion lamp. Even 50 years after they were first invented, they are still a hugely popular item and you can purchase them in hundreds of different designs. Ever wondered how they work? Take our quiz to find out.

In what decade did liquid motion lamps first appear?

Liquid motion lamps made their first appearance in the United States in the 1960s.


How many components are there in a motion lamp?

There are three components: the lamp, the substance making up the floating blobs, and the substance the blobs float in.


For a motion lamp to work, the two compounds inside must be immiscible. What does this mean?

Immiscible means mutually insoluble, meaning that liquid A won't dissolve or mix with liquid B.


What is a classic example of an immiscible compound?

Oil and water is a classic example of an immiscible compound, as the oil always rises to the top.


When a commercial motion lamp has its light turned off and is cold, what will you see in the lamp's globe?

You will see two distinct layers of liquid. The higher density liquid will be on the bottom, pushing the lower density liquid to the top.


To get the blobs in a motion lamp to float around, what kind of substances do you need?

So that the blobs can alternate between rising and sinking, you need substances with similar densities.


How do you decrease the density of a substance?

To change the density of a substance, you change its temperature. Heating it causes the molecules to expand, making it less dense, and cooling it makes it more dense.


What happens to water when it is heated?

When you heat water it expands greatly, because applying heat causes the molecules to spread apart.


When you turn on a motion lamp, what happens to the waxy, solid blob?

The heat turns it into a liquid that is less dense than the liquid it is floating in, and so it rises to the top of the lamp


What does the waxy, solid blob in a motion lamp do when it reaches the top of the lamp?

Because it is now away from the heat source, it cools down slightly. This makes it less dense than the liquid it is in, and so it sinks downward.


Who invented the motion lamp?

Englishman Edward Craven Walker came up with the idea, though it's not certain whether he based it on something he saw in a pub or when developing a complicated egg timer.


What is the best combination of compounds to use when making your own motion lamp?

The most simple combination is to use oil for the blobs and mixture of 70- and 90-percent rubbing alcohol for the liquid. Even so, you will need to experiment to get the right balance of alcohol.


What wattage should the light bulb be in a home-made motion lamp?

Don't use a bulb hotter than 40 watts, as it can be hazardous to overheat chemical substances.


Why is it better to buy a commercial motion lamp than to make your own?

It can be expensive to purchase all the materials and it can be dangerous to combine and heat chemical substances.


What did the lava motion lamp's inventor originally call the lamp?

Edward Craven Walker called his original invention the Astro Lamp.


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