The black liquid mixture is known as a ferrofluid, and is made up of nano-sized, iron-containing particles suspended in water or an organic solvent. When a magnetic field is applied, the ferrofluid puffs out, creating some alien-looking shapes and formations.
Originally discovered in the 1960s at NASA, ferrofluids have found many modern uses. They form liquid seals around the spinning drive shafts of hard disks, dampen unwanted resonances to help improve the sound quality of loudspeakers, and have even found their way into museum art exhibits.
In this gallery, Wired takes a look at some of the best videos, both artistic and scientific, featuring these magical ferrofluids.