All physicsfun toys

Physics Toy Website

for @physicsfun Instagram followers
I get asked often: "Where did you get all this stuff?" My goal is to share the real magic of science and physics- and to this end I will update here (and in my store) suggestions on where to get some of these toys, kinetic art pieces, and scientific curiosities for yourself. Purchasing items from the links on these pages will help support my IG page of science and wonder. 
 
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Photicular Dinosaur Book

From Kainen and Wollard: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Dinosaur: Photicular Book 

Click this link for the other amazing books in the series.

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.  

Specular Hologram on Vinyl

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! 


Fiber Optic Galaxy Lamp

These lamps can often be found on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Fiber Optic Lamps

Fiber Optic Galaxy Lamp: a vintage 1970s fiber optic lamp with a chrome “UFO” base. Note the beautiful spherical symmetry of the fiber spray- they don’t make them like this anymore! The fiber bundle is illuminated by a lamp in the base and the color shifting patterns are generated by a rotating color wheel placed between the light source and the fiber optic bundle. Fun physics at a thrift store price.

Light Pipe

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Display Stand Light Pipe 

Very inexpensive LASER pointers available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Green Laser Pointer 

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. 

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The PhiTOP

Get one here! 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhiTOP 
From Amazon: BUY NOW PhiTOP

The PhiTOP: spinning things often have surprising physics! This unique top is made of solid aluminum in the shape of a prolate elIipsoid- and the name of the top is derived from the following design requirement: the ratio of the semi minor (short) axis to the semi major (long) axis is made equal to the mathematical constant the golden ratio φ (phi). Invented by astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, this top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippy-top. 

Luminglass

These are fairly inexpensive and use two AA batteries. Great for a rave or a physics class! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Plasma Disk 
From eBay: BUY NOW Plasma Disk 

Larger versions available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Luminglas Plasma Disk 

Luminglass: with audio modulation. Tesla (high frequency) coil within a noble gas discharge tube just like a plasma globe- these lightning disks also have phosphor covered dielectric pellets that create most of the light when excited by current flow. The intro to Tool's Sober provides audio with sufficient dynamic range to demonstrate the modulation effect.


Rattlesnake Eggs

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. 

The Helicone

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Helicone Interactive Kinetic

This manipulable kinetic art available here: 
From Art of Play: BUY NOW 
The Helicone

The Helicone: an interactive kinetic sculpture designed by @john.edmark and distributed by playableArt. With a bit of practice I finally mastered the transformation in both directions: A snap of the wrist imparts angular momentum to the laser cut wood petals which then rotate until an internal mechanism stops their motion with predetermined spacing- a helix transforms to an abstract pine cone. A second snap of the wrist in the opposite direction returns the helix. 

Levitron Revolution

Get the levitating/rotating platform here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Levitron Revolution 
From eBay: BUY NOW Levitron Maglev Platform 

Versions of the floating rings illusion can be found at the Exploratorium, at the Carnegie Science Center
and is also famously featured in the 1981 Superman movie: 
 

Levitron Revolution: well engineered control system uses an adjustable electromagnet and and a Hall effect sensor to levitate an 8cm diameter neodymium magnet platform 5 cm in mid-air. The feedback loop allows fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity. The platform also rotates, perfect for this floating rings illusion sculpture I constructed. 


Aluminum Flip Top and Magnetic Stirrer

Inexpensive lab stirrers like this one can be used in many investigations and demonstrations: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Stirrer 

Get a metal tippe-top here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Metal Flip-Over Top 

Aluminum Flip Top and Magnetic Stirrer: dynamic magnetic fields from rotating neodymium magnets in the base induce electric currents to flow in the conducting aluminum of the top. These electric currents then produce an opposite magnetic field of their own via Lenz’s Law. With the top now having a temporary magnetic field the magnets in the stirrer can spin it up. Tippie-tops are a famous physics toy that flip over when spun at sufficient rpm. So much fun physics in a single demo! Credit to astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, the creator of this unique means of spinning up objects via Lenz’s Law. 


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TV Rock

Get an inexpensive "true blue" (not UV) laser here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 445nm blue laser pointer 
Click on this link for sources of inexpensive TV Rocks 

TV Rock: special crystalline form of the mineral gypsum acts as a natural fiber optic image conduit. A laser reveals a couple of interesting properties of these crystals: When directed along the grain of the fibers the laser beam emerges a circle of light (445nm blue used here). In addition, these crystals form with internal cracks, and reflection of laser light off these boundaries reveals the sectioning structure as each domain lights up. Morocco seems to be the main source of this fibrous form, called satin spar gypsum, which exhibits pearl like luster and chatoyancy along two axes and transparency along the direction of the fibers. Not to be confused with ulexite, a mineral of boron with similar TV rock properties. 

Vintage Kinetic Art

Fun balance toy sculptures are available on Amazon: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Sculpture Toys 

Vintage Kinetic Art: Eames era kinetic sculpture seemingly defies gravity as it glides in a graceful circle. The gold plastic sphere plus wire structure is designed such that its center of mass is few centimeters below the point of contact with its base. When the sculpture is tipped or spun, the center of mass swings under the pivot point in this stable equilibrium condition- no magnets needed to create this physics magic.