A zoetrope is a device that can cause the illusion of motion via a spinning cylinder. These gadgets started to appear in the 1800s as mechanical oddities, and were probably quite amazing in their day. Now YouTubers Peter Brown and William Osman made their own version using a custom stroboscope, timed to display an artichoke’s scales in a very interesting pattern.
As a sort of intro to this concept, check out Osman’s video below. With correctly timed lights, a series of pictures drawn on a disk is shown as a moving animation.
Though this is an interesting concept on a hand drill as seen there, things get even more interesting when an artichoke is mounted on Brown’s lathe in the second video. Since an artichoke grows with scales that repeat in a predictable radial pattern, when a strobe is shined on it in the correct sequence, it appears to magically grow.
It’s a fascinating concept, and after Osman decides to eat part of one of these vegetables, they finally get the ‘choke correctly tuned on Brown’s lathe around 8:30. Naturally, they didn’t stop there, ramping the speed up significantly, and making it “bloom” in a beautiful/terrifying pattern later in the video.
The videos are both extremely entertaining and give a good overview of what’s going on. If you’d like a little more technical info, read Osman’s blog to learn how this experiment was set up, and even how he made his custom stroboscope.