Lava Lamps are 50 years old!


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cough cough


I think you mean “Lava Lamps are 50 years old and INCREDIBLY AWESOME”


Well, I feel ridiculously old now. I remember how badly I wanted a lava lamp when I was a kid. Or at least for my parents to buy one. We’d go to the mall on Friday nights and when we got to Spencer’s Gifts I’d just stand there mesmerized by the lava lamps.

I remember when that Spencer’s store closed. Last year the mall itself kicked out its last renters–which included a still operating video game arcade–and closed entirely. A lava lamp could really cheer me up right now.

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This month in 1963, he launched his company, Mathmos, named after the lava lake in Barbarella.

I don’t think his original company was named “Mathmos” as that particular homage to zero-G nudity was released in 1968.

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Good point! I clarified in the post.

I loved the black light poster section! Then once I got old enough to afford them myself, I didn’t want them anymore!

I did get myself a simple lava lamp at Target though a few years back. I will fire it up tonight in celebration.

we have a lava lamp in our kitchen. i think every kitchen should have one.

Lava lamps heat the Wax with a high wattage incandescent. With the move to LEDs and CFL what type of future is in store for the Lava Lamp?

Looking around the small ones use 25W incadescent but the larger classic ones use 100W ‘flood light’ type bulbs.

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Yeah, I love lava lamps, but this is a 100% LED light household now, baby. Even our cars have LED lights on the inside.

(Oh, and it wasn’t cheap or easy. But I can be… fixated… on goals, as some might have noticed :wink:)

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There’s a fan site with some awful web design and some cool info and pictures. The gallery of vintage designs is pretty cool, as are some of the photos of people’s collections.

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Check your local thrift stores - I’ve scored eight hippie-era ones that way, along another dozen contemporary ones. Now, to start a matching severed bat-heads collection.


Mathmos do lamps with LEDs now :smiley:

Or tea-lamp based ones:


And there could be an argument that even incandescent lava lamps are more of a sculpture than an actual light-emitting lamp.

I wouldn’t want to read solely by lava lamp, for instance.

Along with many, large CRT monitors, I used to heat my place with the damn things. I’ll like them better in the future when they’re holograms or I’ll get a flexible, high res LED display, bend it around a toilet paper roll and play video loops via a Raspberry Pi or something.


I assume by “inspired by a Christmas ornament containing oil and water” what you meant to refer to was one of these:

which we had when I was a kid and I was fascinated by them too. According to Wikipedia, the magic juice was methylene chloride (same thing as in the drinky bird) but early ones used a lightweight oil.

The 60’s had some cool shit.


Haven’t fired up my lava lamp since I’ve had the cats in the house. I’m sure they’d be fascinated; I’m not sure I’d want them that interested…

I was, alas, just a bit too late to get seriously into light-show effects. I do have some weird optics for the purpose that I built when I was a kid – thank you, Edmund Scientific – which some day I’ll set up again semi-permanently. But these days the better answer is probably a video projector and a simulation.

(There’s also the variant which substituted glitter for the wax used in the lava lamp, letting it be swirled by the convection currents and reflect random spots of light out into the room. “Oooh! You’ve got a sparkley!” It’d probably be possible to work up a version of that which was driven by some other random current source and thus could operate without the incandescent bulb’s heat input… Maybe a horizontal cylinder, rotating rock-tumbler style.)

I’ve just moved house and have been wondering where to put my (rocket-shaped) lava lamp. The kitchen is a great shout!

That really takes me back. I begged my parents for a lava lamp and never got one, but I also begged my parents for bubble lights for our Christmas tree and was rewarded. They fascinated me too–I loved watching them get started, and learned that, contrary to the old saying, a watched light does indeed boil.

What also fascinated me was that some didn’t bubble. Every year there were one or two that just wouldn’t work. I’m still not sure why, and I never did bother to tag them to find out if it was always the same lights.

Is there a watermark on that video or do I have a burn-in issue?

Or maybe it’s just my eyes, after reading REAMDE straight through last night.