There's a book in which the characters, themselves from a spacefaring culture, find a repository of highly advanced alien technology. One of the items they examine is a panel on a wall. As I recall it looks silvery and has ripples running over its surface. The main character watches the ripples and briefly becomes entranced until a cohort snaps him/her out of it.
I'm pretty sure this is from Newton's Wake but I can't find the passage, and this makes me wonder if I really have the story right. It very well might have been one of Alastair Reynolds' books. Or maybe Charles Stross.
They were looking for something specific, but I don't remember what. Also, when the friend interrupted the trance, there was some ribbing.