Putting the lava in your lamp

Mr. Alice:

They're back. Lava lamps. I thought we were rid of them 30 years ago, but a friend of mine just bought one. I have no idea why. After trying my best to ignore the gross thing, I finally have to ask, what is inside those disgusting, pointed lights?

-- Yuck!, Downtown

The tasteless ornaments-- utterly without value, except perhaps as accompaniment to various chemically altered states-- never died, apparently. They've been in continuous manufacture since the late '60s. The mystical ingredients in the lamp are a specially formulated wax goo, water (made denser with some secret ingredients), and a light bulb. Heat from the bulb creates circular convection currents in the water and softens and expands the waxy stuff, making it less dense than the water. The wax then oozes slowly upward, away from the bulb, and falls again as it cools. Unbelievable as it might seem, it actually requires trained technicians to produce these things, since the specific gravity of each batch of "lava" is critical.

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