Fun with ball bearings on a moving table

What happens when you put thousands of small ball bearings on a moving table? You get fascinating patterns of movement.

(If you cannot see the video above, you may view it on vimeo at, “Gr√∂nlund-Nisunen – Unstable Matter – 2013.”)

The ball bearings move look like an army of pigeons in the skying, swirling around without any clear defined leader. Eventually a group of the pigeon army lands in one place, with the rest immediately following.

The ball bearings sound like rain, constant and inconstant pattering. The rain comes in sheets of sound, then silence, then more sheets of sound.

The ball bearings behave like rush hour traffic. Movement, stand still, movement, stand still.

The Finnish artists Tommi Gr√∂nlund and Petteri Nisunen created a wonderful kinetic sculpture named “Unstable Matter.” Can you think of anything else that these ball bearings remind you of? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

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