All physicsfun toys

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! 

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. 

CMYK Coasters

These coasters are almost sold out everywhere: only The Mona Lisa is still in stock: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW CMYK Coasters 
From eBay: BUY NOW CMYK coasters 

The CMYK model and colorspace on Wikipedia. 

CMYK Coasters: physics and psychophysics of four color printing demonstrated with acrylic slides that assemble to reveal Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring". Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (key) comprise the elements of the subtractive color model used in most color printing. Repost of the “most liked” post of 2016!

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. 

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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. 

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. 

Caustic Projections

Get this sample element here: 
From 3D-Printed Optics Sample 

Green laser pointers available for under $20: 
From eBay: BUY NOW green laser pointer 

Wikipedia has a nice discussion of the optical phenomena of caustics

Caustic Projections: the intricate geometries of light due to refraction through various curved surfaces of transparent plastic. A 520 nm green laser pointer is refracted trough a sample optical element with surface features of triangle and square pyramids and convex lens elements- made to exhibit examples for lighting applications. When light rays refract through a curved surface they concentrate into bright patches called caustics, often with cusp singularities (sharp points) and intricate threads of shadow

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Andris Tri-Zonal Space Warper

Available here: 
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.

Airplane Glory

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. 

Tumble Rings

I made this set of tumble rings from reading Martin Gardner's description in his famous mathematical recreations books- highly recommended: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Knots and Borromean Rings by Martin GardnerDescribes the Tumble Rings 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Books on recreational math and puzzles by Martin Gardner Lots of physics and math toys in these pages! 

Tumble Rings: the links in this chain are connected in a special way such that the top ring appears to tumble to the bottom- a compelling illusion!