This little guy is one of the most amazing things I own.

It’s called a drinking bird (or sometimes a “water bird,” “dunking bird,” or “dipping bird”). You might have seen one in Alien or on The Simpsons.

Once the bird gets its beak wet, it makes that same up and down motion for a long, long time; this time-lapse was taken over a few hours, and it was still going when I was done shooting.

Here’s what’s cool about it: It’s a simple, visible demonstration of a dozen different scientific principles like gas laws, states of matter, and laws of motion. Someone over a hundred years ago was able to take a bunch of seemingly unrelated ideas, find links between them, and make something completely original—they knew the same things other people knew but saw something no one else did. There’s nothing I admire more than that.

Also, when people ask about it I get to pull out a lab coat and chalkboard and say, “Well, different liquids evaporate at different temperatures, and...”