Chaos in a bottle
I got a lava lamp for a birthday years ago and when we moved into this house, it was unpacked, only to be placed on a windowsill and to be tested briefly. I put it in a different place a few days ago, restoring it to actual use.
My fascination with those things comes from watching the bubbles form, rise, cool, join and all possible combinations of those actions. I look at it and observe all the different processes happening at once: heat being applied from below, hotter substance rising to the surface of the wax, a blob escaping, cooling off again, with material flow in both directions, being constricted by the cooling effect of the surrounding water, observing air bubbles trapped in the wax slowly moving and eventually disappearing.
All the while I try to get a grasp on all the effects at work, but I never achieve anything more than realising that what I am seeing is nothing less than chaos theory at work: one might think that it is possible to calculate all these different effects and predict what shapes will form, but the amount of information to process is just too much to be practical. Yet, at the same time you can readily see similar shapes (patterns, if you will) appearing.
I have no doubt that I am misinterpreting the finer points of chaos theory here, but the complexity is no less beatiful because of it.