All physicsfun toys

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.

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! 

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! 

Star Wars Digital Hologram

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. 

Climbing Sphere Spiral Illusion

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.

Acrylic Refraction Art

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. 

Refraction Vanishing Act

This glass device is available from this shop in Germany: 
From 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. 

In-Feed Google 3

RGB Color Addition

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!

Magneto Aerolux Xmas

Similar modern bulbs available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Holiday Aerolux Bulb 

Vintage working telephone magnetos available under $100 
From eBay: BUY NOW Magneto Generators 

Magneto Aerolux Xmas: Wishing all a luminous and Merry Chirstmas with a 1930s Aerolux neon discharge bulb powerd by a functioning antique 5 bar telephone magneto generator made in 1910. The generator creates 100+ Volt AC with such a low frequency one can see the polarity alter back and forth between the electrodes of the flickering bulb. More on vintage magneto physics in upcoming videos! The letters and background filament glow of the Aerolux bulb with light from the emission spectrum of excited neon. The tree glows green from a coating of phosphor which is stimulated to emit green light by the ultraviolet (and invisible) emission line photons from the excited neon atoms.