Simulate Jupiter’s atmospheric swirls at home!

30 minutes


  • Carefully review the general safety advice on the back of the box cover before starting the experiment.
  • Never eat or drink any of the substances provided. Do not use for culinary purposes.
  • Disassemble the setup after the experiment.


  • Dispose of solid waste together with household garbage.
  • Pour liquids down the sink. Wash with an excess of water.

Scientific description

The device you just assembled is called a kalliroscope. It was invented by artist Paul Matisse in 1966 to create objects of art. Its name can be translated from Greek as “an object to see beautiful flows.”

You’ve made a freely-rotating kalliroscope. When you spin the vessel, friction causes the liquid inside to also start whirling. By spinning the vessel continuously in one direction, you can make the outer layers move faster. It seems as if the inner layers are dragged after the outer ones, resulting in a beautiful vortex occupying the whole vessel.

If the liquid inside reaches a rather high speed and the vessel abruptly stops rotating or starts moving in another direction, you can observe more turbulent flows. They are responsible for the most intricate patterns in a kalliroscope.

The same behavior can be observed at a much larger scale in the atmospheres of a certain type of planet—the gas giants. For instance, on Jupiter, distinct atmospheric layers rotate with different speeds to create a stunning unique-looking surface.