You don’t have to know your Zn(NO3)2 from your CuSO4 to appreciate these absolutely beautiful videos of chemical reactions created for a site called Beautiful Chemistry.
Professor Yan Liang of the University of Science and Technology of China, along with co-creators Xiangang Tao and Wei Huang, and in collaboration with Tsinghua University Press, are all behind the project, which focuses a hi-def microscopic camera on chemical reactions like bubbling, metal displacement, crystallization, smoke and liquids.
It may sound like an effects menu in a computer rendering program, and indeed some of these videos look so beautiful in terms of lighting and color that CGI could be suspected. (Some commenters have added the videos to their VFX/Computer Graphics viewing lists.) But according to the site, this is not the case.
For an example of the beauty, just check out at the six-second mark when Cobalt Chloride and Sodium Silicate meet, resulting in bulbous blue and purple growths:
Or look at the wintry fractal forests that spawn when zinc meets silver nitrate (AgNO3), copper sulfate (CuSO4), and lead nitrate (Pb(NO3)2):
The Beautiful Chemistry site has several other interesting series to check out for the science lover, including an ongoing introduction to the elements in cartoon form and a photo gallery of chemistry instruments from history. They are, as the site says, beautiful. More videos can be found on their Vimeo channel.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.