All physicsfun toys

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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

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! 

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Mirror Anamorphosis

This image by István Orosz is available as a poster and as a puzzle: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mysterious Island Puzzle 
From 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! 

Balance Drinking Vessel

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. 

Bottle, Hoop, and Nail Trick

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. 

Optical Trick Portraits

If you are ever in Florence be sure to visit the Galileo Museum and see the original- as well as a collection of Galileo's telescopes and experiments. 
Visit: Museo Galileo 

Optical Trick Portraits: Hold a flat mirror up to this painting of Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, to reveal his daughter Christina in this 1593 work by Ludovico Buti. A very early example of lenticular images, Gioco Ottico hangs in the Galileo Museum in Florence as part of the Medici Collections. I got this toy version from the museum gift shop a couple months ago. 

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Foucault Oscillator

Available from this famous science supplier in Japan: 
From Narika: Foucault Spring Pendulum 

Wikipedia has a nice description of the physics and applications of the Foucault Pendulumincluding this spring version. 

Foucault Oscillator: like a swinging pendulum, the motion of a mass on the end of a straight wire spring is constrained to a plane. The container is moved around yet the orientation of the oscillating mass points in the same direction. Similar to the physics behind the famous Foucault Pendulum that keeps its orientation as the Earth moves underneath. 

Volumes of Constant Width

Get a set of Reuleaux solids here: 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Volumes of Constant Width 

Volumes of Constant Width: these shapes have constant diameter no matter their orientation and will roll like spheres between two planes- note how the acrylic plate stays parallel to the table top. Two of these three solids are based on the Reuleaux triangle and the other on a Reuleaux pentagon. 

Paper Spring Kinetic Art

Similar vintage items like this one are sometimes found on eBay and Etsy: 
From eBay: BUY NOW paper slinky kinetic art 

Paper Spring Kinetic Art: vintage piece of manipulable art by Henry Adams that utilizes the elastic properties of paper in a honeycomb configuration. Magnets on each end allow for a closed loop and a kaleidoscope like effect as the piece is turned inside-out. "Playart" circa 1989. 

Skye Blue Cafe Wall Illusion

See more illusion art from Victoria Skye here: 
From Illusion and Impossible Objects 

Skye Blue Café Wall Illusion: the horizontal blue lines appear to be sloped but they are actually parallel, as verified by sighting a straight line from the edge of the image. This visual illusion is related to the level of contrast between sharp boundaries, and if the boundaries are blurred (here with a plate of frosted glass) the illusion is broken and the lines appear parallel. Note that even after we verify the lines are parallel, our perception still misleads- a reminder that we need science to transcend the limits of our senses and cognition. This award winning illusion was created by artist Victoria Skye and is featured here with permission. @vicskye