All physicsfun toys

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. 

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Thermocromic Eclipse Postage Stamps

Available from the US Post Office and here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Thermochromic Eclipse Stamps 

Thermocromic Eclipse Postage Stamps: In commemoration of the total solar eclipse next Monday the US Post Office has released their first ever stamp featuring thermocromic ink. Thermotropic liquid crystals go from opaque to transparent during a phase change from a crystal to liquid state. Here the warmth of the hand reveals the face of the moon in front of the solar corona. The first physics toy stamp! 

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Spinning Snowflakes Convection Candle

Many versions of this type of convection candle are available: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Spinning Kinetic Candles 

Also on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Spinning Convection Candles 

Spinning Snowflakes Convection Candle: a simple heat engine- rotational motion resulting from the convection of hot air due to the candle flame of a tea light. All moving parts of thin stainless steel with some assembly required. Energy transfer: chemical bonds to heat to kinetic energy of the rising air to rotational kinetic energy of the turbine and snowflakes.

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. 

Lava Lamp in Time-lapse

Available here in many colors and sizes: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Lava Lamps

Lava Lamp in Time-lapse: 15 minutes compressed into 15 seconds gives a different perspective on the processes involved in this classic physics toy from the 1960's. Mesmerizing physics of convective heat flow, Archimedes principle, and immiscible liquids. Manufactured by Mathmos and invented in 1963 by Edward Walker of Dorset England, the Lava Lamp is still popular today and is available in a wide range of colors. 


Four versions to choose from! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Kaleidograph 

Kaleidograph: hand held manipulable mathematical art. Stack, rotate, and flip two or more of these 12 double sided die cut cards into billions of possible arrangements! (30 shown here) A toy that integrates the math of combinatorics with the beauty of symmetry.

TV Rock

Get samples of Satin Spar here 
From eBay: BUY NOW TV Rock: Satin Spar 

Get samples of Ulexite here 
From eBay: BUY NOW TV Rock: Ulexite 

TV Rock: special crystalline form of the mineral gypsum acts as a natural fiber optic image conduit. 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. 

Pet Tornado

This vintage item is out of production. Here are some similar times based on whirlpool vorteces: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Vortex Lamps

"Pet Tornado": whirlpool powered by a magnetic stirrer (like those in a chemistry lab). The knob on the side has settings F1 through F5 ? One of my sillier toys- but vortices are just so cool.

LessMore Bowls

Available here: 
From Art of Play: BUY NOW LessMore Bowls 

Learn more about this illusion and its history on the Wikipedia page: Jastrow Illusion 

LessMore Bowls: (non-physics post) these serving dishes by @artofplay are a 3D version of the famous Jastrow Illusion, where the lower curve always appears larger than the top one. Note that even after we verify the bowls are the same size, our perception still misleads- a reminder that we need science to transcend the limits of our senses.


High precision manufacturing and beautifully packaged-- Get the original here: 
From the KS campaign: BUY NOW Moondrop Fidget 

Moondrop: using magnets and Lenz's Law to imitate free fall times on the Moon and Mars. The key to this device is the presence of neodymium magnets in the central aluminum column. When a non-magnetic metal ring moves down, the magnetic field in the center produces an electric current in the ring. The ring then temporarily becomes an electromagnet that exerts some repulsion against the center magnets slowing the ring down. The Earthdrop (blue) has the magnets removed from the column to provide comparison. Another unique and scientific fidget toy! 

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Magic Vortex Marble

The astonishing art of Raven Copeland, aka the madglasser: Buy a marble here! 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Vortex Marble artwork of Raven Copeland 

Magic Vortex Marble: glass art intersects with the physics of optics in another spectacular piece from lampworking master Raven Copeland aka @madglasser -The clear glass face of the marble acts as a convex lens giving the illusion that the spiral goes deeper than the diameter of the marble. A Gibson opal seems suspended in space above the unique vortex- see the @madglasserInstagram stream for more from his Magic Marble series. The vortex depth illusion in these is even stronger in person!