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.
I made the display holder and I got this set of gas tubes here (about $7 per tube):
From eBay: BUY NOW
Gas Pure Element Samples
The breakdown voltages of the elements featured in this post are described by Paschen's Law:
Here is a excellent article with an overview of the physics of glow discharge and its application in lighting and other technologies.
Gas Collection for Emission Spectra: pure samples of hydrogen, nitrogen and five noble gasses are subjected to the high frequency pulsed field of a miniature Tesla coil. Each gas has a characteristic breakdown voltage and emission spectrum- note that Nitrogen has the highest breakdown voltage and only glows when very near the coil where the field is most intense whereas Neon and Helium have the lowest breakdown voltage and begin to glow many centimeters away from the coil. The color of each gas is due to a mix of the colors emitted from electron energy transitions specific to each element- the basis of spectroscopy. The Krypton tube also exhibits interesting oscillations with this particular Tesla coil.
Balance Pteranodon: weights in the forward wing tips create a center of mass below this pterosaur's beak- making a system that can rotate and oscillate about a stable equilibrium condition. No magnets used or needed for this physics! Usually this toy is found in the form of a bird (direct dinosaur descendent). Pterosaurs are not dinosaurs, but are the largest animals to ever fly, and powered flight has only evolved four times: bats, birds, pterosaurs, and insects- in reverse order.
Get one here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Diffraction Grating Suncatcher
Diffraction Grating Suncatcher: a radial mosaic of thin plastic diffraction gratings produces a starburst of rainbows. A wonderful piece for any sun facing window by Rainbow Symphony designs.
For the price of a vinyl LP you can own the amazing artwork of Tristan Duke. This album by Jack White is damn good as well (I also got the digital download with the vinyl purchase).
From Amazon: BUY NOW Jack White Lazaretto (Vinyl)
Specular Hologram on Vinyl: the album Lazaretto by Jack White features this amazing "scratch hologram" of a twirling angel (shown here accompanied by the opening bars from the title track of the album). The hologram was hand etched on the metal master by artist Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science. The etched grooves reflect a point source of light as sharp glints and the groves are arranged so that each eye sees a slightly different pattern such that, via stereopsis, the shiny points appear to float above or below the surface. This album has a lot of other interesting features including dual grooves that allows for two different intros to one track (depending on where the needled is dropped) and side A plays from the inside out- fun!
From Kainen and Wollard:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Dinosaur: Photicular Book
Photicular Dinosaur Book: the latest in the photicular series- this time with scientific reconstructions of ancient beasts! This amazing book of 8 astonishing moving and looping lenticular 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. Kainen has teamed up this time with Kathy Willard who puts each image into context incorporating fun paleontology facts appropriate for kids yet informative to all.
Available in a variety of colors:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Ooze Timer
The physics of the liquid rope-coil effect is pretty complex. Here is a recent scientific paper on the topic with nice illustrations.
Journal of Fluid Mechanics: Multiple coexisting states of liquid rope coiling
Ooze Tube: viscous polyisobutene fluid timer toy. Some interesting physics phenomena are found in this kinetic art novelty item: the "liquid rope-coil effect" where the fluid thread coils and stacks as it lands on the pooling surface, and a curious periodicity in the rate of flow that is related to the formation of non-spherical bubbles as the air and fluid trade places (shown in time-lapse). The physics of the coiling effect is complex (see the link in my blog). Broadly speaking the coiling is due to the bottom of the fluid rope widening at the contact point with the surface, and as it widens the fluid slows down but not evenly. This uneven rate of flow produces a bend and the elasticity of the stream constrains the rope to a limited radius- hence a stack of coils.
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.
Whee-Lo: the original version of this toy from the '60s- physics of: angular momentum, magnets, rotational and translational kinetic energy, phase locking, it's all there. Who else had one of these?
Pluto Globe by MOVA: simulate the historic 2015 Pluto flyby of NASA’s New Horizons space probe with this self rotating detailed image of the dwarf planet’s surface. Each MOVA rotating globe is sealed within a clear liquid filled acrylic sphere. The rotation is powered by light that shines through the semi-transparent Pluto globe on to solar cells inside the globe which drive a motor. But what does the motor push against to maintain the rotation? Believe it or not it uses magnets to push against the Earth's magnetic field like a compass needle. Love this clever device. With thanks to @movaglobes for sending me this amazing globe.
Get a set here!
From Amazon: BUY NOW Buzzing Magnet Set
Rattlesnake Eggs: polished barium- strontium ferrite ceramic magnets influence each other when many centimeters apart. Turn sound on--Wait for it! Sold as "buzzers" these magnets come together with multiple bounces creating a characteristic zipper sound. Most shops and online vendors incorrectly label these as hematite- a completely different substance that does not magnetize well.
Light Pipe: internal reflection constrains most of the laser light to propagate along the bent acrylic rod- the physics of fiber optics. This plastic stand is sold as a hanging ornament display- repurposed here as a great light-pipe demonstration.
Available on eBay (2 current to this post)
From eBay: BUY NOW Vintage Swirl Around Top
Swirl Around Top: the magnetic tipped top stays on the perimeter of the steel plate template- but since the top has more mass than the triangular plate, the triangle moves in an interesting way. This kinetic art toy takes advantage of Newton's 3rd law and rotational kinetic energy. Produced by The Toycrafter in the 1990s these tops are out of production but can often be found on eBay.
From eBay: BUY NOW MicroBank Coin Illusion
MicroBank: coin shrinking bank- clever use of symmetry, mirrors, and a concave Fresnel lens combine to create this illusion. Magic with physics!