(Video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FvWtEdY4sE)
Frustrated by my obvious failure to reproduce a very very simple experiment I kept fiddling with the position of the magnet and the angle of the laser until I managed to get the laser to bounce off the mirror almost exactly at the center point of where the magnetic effect on the water was. Here is the result. Actually, there were two results. Not to far away ( the images were projected on my garage ceiling ) there was a different pattern. Image #2 below.
I can't say that I know what these images represent, but I imagine them being 2D representations of the underlying magnets effects on water. I'd be grateful if anyone could provide a more scientific explanation.
Anyways, here's what I used and how to reproduce the effects.
( Apologies for the blurry images, I couldn't with the tripod... again. )
Step 1: Equipment and Materials
Any old laser will do red, green, blue, anything within your visual spectrum is just great. The only thing I'd suggest you avoid is using a strong laser. If you're into laser you'll know the ones I mean: the dvd burner, blue-ray, I can cut through duct tape ones. Since you'll be bouncing laser beams off all over the place, I'd urge you to not exceed 50mW and at the very least use some sunglasses for basic protection.
Here's the one I'm currently using: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.10096
Size doesn't matter, it's how you use it. :) No wait! Erase that! Get something small enough to handle with ease.
1 small puck-shaped neodymium magnet
The one I used came with the Arduino sensor pack 900.
1 small metallic strip
or anything that you can use to move the magnet without moving the mirror.
Distilled preferred, but not required.
something to elevate the mirror only slightly above the height of the magnet
[optional] a squid type third hand
It's a priceless tool and if you hadn't built one for your workshop I encourage you try. The most excellent instructable on how to do this is here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Third-Hand-A-multi-use-helping-hand-for-electro/
Step 2: Assembly and Alignment
Don't be lazy like me and clean your mirror. Also use distilled water if you have any. As observable from the picture below, I neglected to do so and found that tiny particles of dirt and dust also make quite lovely images on their own. You can tell the image is from dirt if it moves when you gently blow into the water. The magnetic images will stay still unless you manage to move the whole thing all together.
How much water to use?
What you really want is only a few drops. Your goal should be to achieve as much height from your water drop as possible. This will give the strongest effect.
Step 3: Drawing Laser Flowers
Kind regards, Vince.