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The Time Fountain Will Turn Back Time

nate true time fountain

By David Ponce

Put some fluorescent dye in water. Then feed it through a precise, micro-controlled pump so as to get a very regular stream of drops from the top of your apparatus. Then, turn the blacklight on, and start your strobelight. What you’ve just created is called The Time Fountain, and happens to be one of the trippiest DIY projects we’ve ever come across.

It’s the brainchild of one Nate True, and what you’re able to do with this project will simply amaze you. By regulating the strobe’s frequency, you’re able to freeze a drop of water in mid-air, and interact with it; break it up and such. You can slow the drip down, or even better, reverse it, hence the name: in reverse, it looks like your fountain is going back in time.

Of course, there’s a video. So come right in.

[Nate True’s Time Fountain] VIA [TechEBlog]


46 responses to “The Time Fountain Will Turn Back Time”

  1. Yaotl says:

    Dude, you just blew my mind.

  2. Uri says:

    Totally freaked out! But in a HolyShit that’s awesome kind of way.

  3. Stefan says:


    Harold Edgerton invented this technique at MIT at least 50 years ago. If people think this is cool they should look at some of his other work.

    This is nothing new.

  4. Vi says:

    That’s freaking amazing…

  5. nick says:

    I believe that Edgerton specialized in high speed photagraphy. A similar look, but totally different in process. This looks to be taken with a regular speed camera.

  6. ???????? says:

    ?????????? ?Time Fountain?…


  7. Chain says:

    I want to buy one… πŸ˜€

  8. AirIntake says:

    This is just like wheels appearing to spin backwards when on film or TV. Nothing magic, but could be neat when you’re drunk.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I want one! I want one! I want one! I want one!

  10. Anonymous says:

    This shows why you cant have flourescent lights around moving machinery (like a printing press). The strobing of the flourescent can make moving parts appear stationery……

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yeah I saw this at the Boston Science Museum like 10-15 years ago.. Still bad ass tho

  12. Bryan says:

    Years ago I was setting up for a band, and dropped a roll of duct tape as they were testing the strobes. It took me forever to catch it.

  13. rlc says:

    They have a similar display at the hands-on in Ann Arbor for over 10 years.

  14. farker says:

    So what? This guy made one himself out of radioshack parts

  15. Anonymous says:

    Now to put it in a mini police call box…

  16. Tux says:

    This is the same as the strobe on a turntable.

    This idea has been around for decades.

  17. dave b says:

    who cares how long its been about or if you have seen it before it is still well cool and a want one

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m a stupid chump! Apparently someone’s discoveered how to freely manipulate physics and used it to make a fountain with LED lights! I wanna buiy one now!

  19. Anonymous says:

    you missed the part about the “precise, micro-controlled pump”. I’ll bet radio shack doesn’t sell these..good luck finding one.

  20. GSL says:

    Geez, some of you are the most cynical jackasses I’ve ever seen. Just because something is based off an idea that has “been around for decades” doesn’t mean it isn’t still cool to watch.

    STFU and go back to listening to Bauhaus and contemplating about how “life = pain”, thank you.

  21. GSL says:

    Oh, and here’s your pump, you smarmy anonymous idiot. Or a wiper-fluid pump would probably do. Or any tiny bilge pump from a boating supply store.

  22. Chuck says:

    It’s cool. I’ve seen the effect with strobelights before (say with a fan) but never thought about pairing it with drops of water. Thanks for a fresh viewpoint.

  23. jcacedit says:

    I think the comment in Chinese is saying “you rip me off. I sue yo ass!!” seriously, i can see this being sold at the Sharper Image.

  24. Rest says:

    This was done decades ago by Harold Edgerton, who not only did amazing things with high speed cameras, but he created the strobe light. He created this which can be seen as it is in the video with the human eye.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It does not matter in the least who came up with idea first. This an execution of it with style and grace. It sounds like this was done by someone in their spare time and produced an impressive product. Therefor, I say this project is extremely impressive.

  26. SomeTrollWithNoLife says:

    Yeah, so like, all the things you’ve seen, I’ve seen them 20 years ago and I know the guy who originally invented them. So, like, when you think something’s cool, it’s actually not, because I’ve been telling people how not-cool it is for 20 years by that point.

    So don’t ever bother to do anything, because by the time you’ve done it, I’ll have already told people that it’s not cool, and they will all laugh at you.

    Seriously, people. The video was neat. Leave it at that.

  27. SPark says:

    I join the sensible people here in admiring this thing. It’s spiffy-neat! Sure the idea’s been around forever, but so? Nobody’s done much with it before, have they? It’s all well and good to say “Hey, I saw this at a musem.” The Museum paid somebody $$$$$ to make that exhibit. This is something that you could duplicate for a few bucks and have one of your own! Totally awesome!

  28. Jimbo says:

    I’ll go ahead and call it art. Beautifully rendered with wonderful music. For a little demo vid quite mezmorizing. I’ve seen strobe art before and this was as wonderful an example.

  29. Very Slick… I wonder how long before Sharper Image starts selling them???… hehe

  30. Lacquerhead says:

    Very nice. Artistic and, in the most technical sense of the word, trippy. And being painfully mechanically inept I could never build one, but then, that’s what sharper image is for.
    Thank you David Ponce, and thank you internet.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, it’s like all these new bands that keep coming out, playing the guitar and drums. Old bands have been doing it for years, and I happen to have some LPs to prove it. It’s not amazing to hear a guitar played well anymore, and all bands should stop making music. Who cares if you know how to play a song on a guitar? That’s old news. Come back when you’ve invented your own musical instrument, not based on old technology. And don’t even play music, that’s old crap. I may be slightly impressed if you can create an instrument that can cure cancer, and solve all the world’s problems. But then again, I had that idea, like 10 years ago, so I won’t be too impressed. In fact, I should probably kill myself because nothing is cool anymore. Come on, all you cool kids who have already seen it all, and can probably recite all the lyrics to every song ever written, including songs whose lyrics are just a ripoff of some lyrics you already heard. But then again, don’t. I already know someone who already committed suicide because the world was such a joke. But then, you already knew that, didn’t you? You are so cool. I want to be your friend.

    Good job on the gizmo, by the way. πŸ™‚

  32. Anonymous says:

    I loved these at Quark’s Bar in Las Vegas last year for their Warp Core Breach and some other drinks. They put the glass under the “tap” and drops slowly fell into the glass, quickly filling it up. I figured they did it with strobe lights but this makes me want to make one for myself at home now.

  33. Erik Hooper says:

    Friday Afternoon…

    Kinda cool….

  34. mike tooms says:

    that is really awesome i liked it when they broke up the drope while it was on the suspended in mid-air setting

  35. Jadefox says:

    For those who did not enjoy this project /wrist

  36. Pat says:


  37. that guy says:

    if someone sold these at around $20 or so dollars, they would make a killing. (i have no idea how much parts cost, that’s just a complete guess.)

  38. LART says:

    I want to buy two! πŸ™‚

  39. WilliamKF says:

    Yes Edgerton invented it at MIT but it is still really cool many year later!

  40. Edzar says:

    That’s fun to watch! I saw a similar device at SIGGRAPH once. It had a grid of multiple valves controlled by a computer, plus strobes. By controlling the timing of each valve, it could make pyramids and cubes out of water drops. As cool as it was, I still liked watching the needle poking the drop of water better.

  41. Kris says:

    Who the hell cares if it was done before!
    God some of you people are tight-a** fools!
    Simple-plain fact: its a neat device and it was made from cheap, easy-to-get parts to demonstrate a cool effect of strobes.
    Yes, i’ve seen strobes many times, hell i killed the power in the house once using a strobe.

    Would you idiots be saying the same if someone built another pyramid?
    Those were done centuries ago, hell, millenia ago, those certainly arent new!
    Yet if someone build them, even if it happens to be the glass one an asian company hope to build sometime in the next few decades, it would still be cool!

    I hate idiots, i really do.

  42. gazman says:

    top banana …….

  43. Pereira says:

    The glass isn’t half empty or half full, you’re all just stupid.

  44. Jon says:

    The Japanese comment was describing the thing

  45. HEAD OF YEAR says: