Plasma globes are now available in many sizes and levels of quality. Here is a source for reasonably priced quality globes:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Plasma Globes (link 1)
From Amazon: BUY NOW Plasma Globes (link 2)
Plasma Globe: low pressure noble gasses exhibit glow discharge from high voltage, creating plasma filaments that rise upward due to heating- shown here in slow motion. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the metal coated glass globe. Current flow through the thin gas produces the colorful emission spectra from the gasses
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From Amazon: BUY NOW Gyroscopes
Precession of a Gyroscope: in defiance of gravity this gyroscope is supported only at one end. The physics and vector nature of angular momentum!
Kainen and Kaufmann now offer seven books in this series- all amazing!
From Amazon: BUY NOW Photicular Animation Books
Photicular 3D Animation Book: the foremost in lenticular image technology produces these looping motion images that look like videos on a computer screen. This amazing book of 8 astonishing moving images is the creation of photographer/artist/inventor Dan Kainen where the moving images use Kainen's patented process where a specially processed image slides under a thin film of lenticular lenses. Writer Carol Kaufmann puts each image into context incorporating fun science facts appropriate for kids yet informative to all.
From AMAZON : Scientific Slinky
Learn more about the physics of the slinky here: Exploratorium Science Snack
The slinky has been a popular toy since 1945! Read about the history and physics of the slinky, and the naval mechanical engineer that invented it on Wikipedia.
Visit the Exploratorium
Slinky Treadmill by @exploratorium: kinetic motion energy transfers to elastic potential energy and then back to kinetic energy in a cycling process as a slinky spring "walks" down an incline. Put the system on a treadmill, such as this one at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, and the walking behavior can be explored for many minutes. Note that after a while the slinky's walking becomes erratic.? With special thanks to the Exploratorium!
These micro racer cars are sold under many brand names, and most come with a clear sphere to demonstrate this centipetal accelration phyenomenon.
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Micro Racer + Sphere
Micro Racer in a Glass: This tiny battery powered car overcomes gravity through centripetal acceleration and slight friction with the glass surface. With sufficient velocity the surface normal force supplies the centripetal acceleration. The car’s battery last for many minutes and is USB rechargeable.
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From Amazon: BUY NOW Low Temp Stirling Engine
Stirling Engine: low temperature difference engine turns a fraction of the heat of hot tap water into mechanical motion. For this engine the heat source is the hot tap water, and the heat sink is the room temperature air. Really nice model and super inexpensive for a display engine of this type.
Get a levitating moon globe lamp here!
FromAmazon: BUY NOW Levitating Moon Globe Lamp
The Levimoon: this detailed moon globe is an adjustable lamp that levitates! Charged through wireless induction via the base, the moon floats above the Earth while illuminated from the inside to reveal the major features of the lunar surface, and will rotate when given a slight push. This kind of levitation uses a control system with an adjustable electromagnet in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allows for fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity.
Get this famous physics toy from these sources:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Drinking Bird Engine
Wikipedia has wonderful details about the rich history (and further descriptions of the operational principals) of the Drinking Bird.
Drinking Bird Heat Engine: time lapse of 15 minutes into 15 seconds (4 cycles). Cooling by evaporation at the head leads to lower pressure in the top bulb, the dichloromethane fluid rises up the neck making the bird top heavy and the bird tips over dipping its beak and letting the fluid return to the bottom bulb. The time lapse allows a clearer picture of how the fluid rises, shifting the center of mass, and how tipping makes the glass column lift out of the fluid in the bottom allowing the pressure to equalize and letting gravity pull the fluid to return to the base. Process repeats as long as the top stays wet. So much physics in one hypnotic toy!
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From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Bird
Balance Bird: weights in the wing tips create a center of mass below the bird's beak- making a system in stable equilibrium. No magnets!
Get a flip over tippe-top here:
BUY NOW Tippe-Tops
Precision Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics! This aluminum version of the famous flip-over top works better than any I’ve seen. Friction with the desk surface provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position.
DIY version Available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Penultimate Floating Pen
Penultimate: magnetic levitation pen. A two dimensional magnetic trap suspends a ball point pen- in this design the point of the pen against a polished acrylic acts as a bearing to let the pen spin with minimal friction.
Many models and colors to choose from, available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Heng Balance Lamp
Heng Balance Lamp: magnetic suspension sculpture and light- with two neodymium magnets on cords suspended by their mutual magnetic attraction. In this design by Zanwen Li, the bottom cord engages the light switch.
Regular sized Newton's cradle availabe here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Newton's Cradle
Newton's Cradle: industrial model made with galvanized aircraft cable, aircraft aluminum for the frame, and 1.5 inch one-half pound nickel plated chrome steel spheres. (0.23 kg and 3.8cm in diameter each) The classic demonstration that shows the curious behavior due to conservation of both momentum and kinetic energy. Swipe to see comparison to standard version.
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From Amazon: BUY NOW
SWITCH PITCH BALL Spotted with BILL GATES
Switch Pitch Ball: this spherical assembly changes color by turning inside out when tossed into the air. Advertisements for this toy incorrectly claim air drag is involved in the transformation. The ball is made of multiple components hinged together. In launching the ball from the hand an upward acceleration results in a torque that pivots each component around its center of mass, causing the rotation of these components in an organized way leading to the transformation. Imagine tossing a stick straight up. If the stick is perfectly vertical upon launch it will move straight up- but if it is initially slanted at all it will also begin to rotate upon launch. Similar physics underlies the motion of each component of the ball- shown here in 240 fps slow motion. The Switch Pitch is produced by the makers of the Hoberman Sphere.