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.
Get this amazing top here:
From Etsy- ShirePostMint: BUY NOW Spinning USA Top
USA Copper Spinning Top: a ceramic silicon nitride sphere is precisely placed at the center of mass allowing this copper plate of the US to spin like a top. Stamped out of heavy 1/8 inch thick copper, spin times up to 4 minutes can be achieved. More physics magic by @shirepostmint !
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.
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
Here is the miniture tesla coil used in the video:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Tesla Coil
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.
Click this link to see the mini Tesla coil in action
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.
The hoop used is just the inner circle of an embroidery hoop. Get one for a couple dollars here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Wooden Hoop
The science writer Martin Gardner has published many books of physics tricks and simple but amazing science experiments like the one in this video. Highly recommended.
From Amazon: BUY NOW Martin Gardner's Science Magic: Tricks and Puzzles
Bottle, Hoop, and Nail Trick: with some practice, a snap of the wrist removes the hoop and the nail falls straight into the bottle. Newton's 1st Law as seen in slow motion- a mass at rest tends to stay at rest. (Best to watch with sound/audio) Balancing the nail on the hoop ensures the nail is directly over the top of the bottle. The hoop is removed so quickly that it does not interact significantly with the sufficiently massive nail, and thus the nail remains over the mouth of the bottle so that gravity pulls it in. G4G Week repost- a favorite from Martin Gardner’s collections of physics tricks.
Available here in a variety of colors and wood types:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Kwish Tensegrity Toy
Tensegrity Icosahedron Toy: an architectural engineering inspired toy for tots- believe it or not this design is sold as a toy for babies: the Skwish rattle by the Manhattan Toy Company. Six wood struts float isolated from each other but held in a stable configuration by a net of 24 connecting elastic cords. This configuration of three sets of parallel struts forms a Jessen’s icosahedron under tension, and was invented by the famous architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949. A physics toy for ages 0 and up!
In 2015 these sold for $250 for the stand and hologram! Still with limited availability here and a bit cheaper in price:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Star Wars Digital Hologram
From eBay: BUY NOW Star Wars Digital Hologram
Star Wars Digital Hologram: full color digital holography brings to life “A New Hope: Death Star Battle” using the latest technology in 3D imaging. This hologram image is comprised of 734000 hogels (hologram pixels) and comes with its own display stand that illuminates from below. Unlike photographs, holograms are recordings of the interference pattern of light waves. This interference pattern can encode moving 3D images which are revealed by illumination by a point source of light and viewing from an appropriate angle. The latest hologram in my collection, and it looks even more stunning in person.
I bought this kinetic illusion at the Exploratorium Museum back in 1995. Not sure if this model is still available anywhere. Here are some available kinetic illusions that operate on the same principle:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Spiral Spinner Illusion
From eBay: BUY NOW Spiral Spinner Illusion
Climbing Sphere Spiral Illusion: hanging by string the rotational motion of the helical spring creates translational motion downward along the vertical direction- however, the ball is often perceived to be rolling upward through the coil.
Vasa Mihich's gallery offer this piece for sale and others:
Gallery of Vasa Mihich
Also often available on eBay:
From eBay: BUY NOW Art by Vasa Mihich
Acrylic Refraction Art: “Block with Five Colors” by Vasa Mihich. Vasa’s art utilizes refraction, reflection, and color mixing to produce sculptures that dramatically change character depending on the angle from which they are viewed.
This glass device is available from this shop in Germany:
From experimentis-shop.de: BUY NOW Vanishing Glass Demonstration
Refraction Vanishing Act: the liquid (immersion oil) in this glass tube has the same index of refraction as the glass. When the oil covers the glass rod inside the tube, the rod becomes invisible! Immersion oil is used with high resolution microscopes and designed to have the same index of refraction as the glass slide and objective lens. This physics puzzle demonstration was handcrafted by a glass maker in Germany and is sold by experimentis, the online shop for physics.
These Light Blox are available in this nice kit from Laser Classroom, a science education supplier:
From Laser Classroom: Light, Color and Shadow Kit
Wikipedia has a fantastic introduction on the topic of RGB Color Theory
RGB Color Addition: three LED light boxes demonstrate the additive nature of colored light. Mixing Red, Green, and Blue to create Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan. An object casts shadows showing the following mixings: R+G=Y, G+B=C, and R+B=M. Adding all three R+G+B produces White (a little pinkish here as the Red is a little bit bright for complete white balance). RGB color addition is the basis for all computer and TV displays- all the colors you are looking at right now on your screen are made from adding pixels of R G and B in different proportions and intensities!
This unique toy came to me from Germany:
From Kreiselparadies.de: Orbit Spin Disk
Orbit: spinning disk toy with off-center sphere. Spinning things obey different rules!- its center of mass goes to the top when spun. Very similar physics to that of the tippy-top (a few posts back on this stream).
From Amazon: BUY NOW Andrus Tri-Zonal Space Warper
From eBay: BUY NOW Tri-Zonal Space Warper
Magician and professor of psychology Richard Wiseman describes the genius of Jerry Andrus and the psychophysics of the Space Warper.
Andris Tri-Zonal Space Warper: Stare at the center of the spirals for at least 15 seconds- the next thing you look at will appear to be in motion. This spinning disk top features the famous illusion by magician Jerry Andrus that demonstrates aspects of the physics and psychophysics of our visual perception- specifically the part of our brain that detects motion. The effect is even stronger in person than in the video.
Wikipedia has this introduction to the phenomena of the Aircraft Glory
For a detailed discussion with math, see this entry from the Physics Stack Exchange
Airplane Glory: optical phenomenon that forms rings of color in the clouds- in this case around the shadow of my 737 flight, and is not the same physical process as that of a rainbow. Airplane glories are produce only by very tiny droplets (tens of visible light wavelengths across) in the cloud, and arise due to complex process called wave tunneling, where the electromagnetic waves that make the colors are induced in the drop by a photon only passing close by its surface. Interestingly, the exact details of this phenomenon is still an active area of research! Caught this out the window returning yesterday from a national science teachers convention in Atlanta.
This image by István Orosz is available as a poster and as a puzzle:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mysterious Island Puzzle
From MathArtFun.com: BUY NOW Mysterious Island Poster
For those who want to see the math behind this art, here is an initial paper on the topic published in 2000 in the American Journal of Physics: Anamorphic Images by Hunt et al.
Many books are available (with mirror cylinders) from Amazon: Anamorphic Art in Books
Mirror Anamorphosis: this famous print by artist István Orosz has a hidden anamorphic image revealed by placing a mirrored cylinder over the depiction of the moon in the image. The work visualizes a scene from the book “The Mysterious Island” by the science-fiction author Jules Verne- whose portrait emerges in the reflection on the cylinder. The math describing this mapping is quite complex and was given in detail in a physics journal in 2000, but before that Martin Gardner described the math in 1975. Repost for this week’s theme as I head to G4G!
Get a set here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Cups
Balance Drinking Vessel: physics meets design in this stainless steel cup- when empty the cup tilts to one side, but when full it stands straight. The walls of this spherical vessel are hollow, asymmetric, and weighted, designed with the center of mass displaced from the symmetry axis such that the empty cup rests in stable equilibrium at a 23 degree tilt. The addition of mass (pouring a drink) within the offset interior of the cup places the center of mass (cup + contents) onto the symmetry axis allowing an upright stable equilibrium. Designed by Katja Hoeltermann for Carl Mertens design of Solingen Germany.
Available here- four versions of 360° Books to choose from:
Amazon: BUY NOW 360° Books
360° Book: Earth and Moon by Yosuke Oono- whimsical art for the science and sci-fi enthusiast. Love the UFO abducting the cow!