All physicsfun toys

Gauss Gun

Similar device available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Gauss Gun

Easy to make with these magnets:
From eBay: BUY NOW Magnets for Magnetic Cannon DIY and  Steel balls for Magnetic Cannon DIY

Gauss Gun: acceleration of steel balls through magnetic potential energy and cascading collisions. Four neodymium magnets provide the potential energy that is converted into significant kinetic energy of the end steel ball. The initial configuration has two steel balls on one side of each magnet- an incoming ball on the opposite side accelerates and impacts each magnet in turn sending each loosely connected second ball off with greater speed. 

Micro Mirror Interactive Art Memo Pad

My freind Tim Rowett over at Grand Illusions Ltd. has this item in stock:

From Grand Illusions Ltd: BUY NOW: Love/Hate Micro Mirror Art
Also availble in South Korea: BUY NOW: Love/Hate Micro Mirror Art

Micro Mirror Interactive Art: mirrors as pixels- the "love/hate" memo pad by Luycho. The displayed message is the product of 1280 tiny square mirrors (dimensions 2.0 x 2.5 mm), where each mirror is angled to reflect a specific part of the memo pad below. Alter the distribution of colors on the pad and the message on pixel array can change between the two options.

The Holoscope: Icosahedron

Order a holoscope from the artist's gallery here: 
The artwork of Gary Allison: BUY NOW Holoscopeworld.com 

Look through other holoscopes in my collection here: Holoscope Kaleidoscopes

The Holoscope Icosahedron: the intricate beauty of multiple internal reflections from 20 triangular mirrors in the shape of this famous platonic solid. The interior is viewed from one corner and illuminated by light entering from glass spheres placed at all of the other 11 vertices. A type of kaleidoscope based on mirrored polyhedra by artist Gary Allison, (swipe to see the dodecahedron and cube) and future posts will include tetrahedron and octahedron holoscope forms as I complete my Platonic solids set. Each holoscope has stained glass on the exterior and front surface mirrors on the inside which create the amazing and seemingly impossible spaces within.


Tensegrity for the Desk

Get this affordable physics tensegrity sculpture here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Tensegrity Sculpture

Tensegrity for the Desk: an elegant, and stackable, desk toy version of this popular tensegrity configuration by maker/designer Micah Murdoch. Constructed from poplar wood, the design assembles easily with clever ball and socket connectors at the ends of the nylon support lines (3 long, 1 short). Stacking them seems to only increase the illusion of floating with the subtle way these structures defy gravity. Another fun configuration of tensegrity concept, invented by Kenneth Snelson and made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949.

Caustic Projections from 3D Printed Optics

The optical element used in the video is an industry sample from Luximprint, a company that developed the 3D additive optical printing techniqe. Samples are available from thier shop: 
From luximprint.com: 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 from 3D Printed Optics: 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 of additive optics fabrication 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.

Scale Saturn with Ring System and Earth

Made by Jay Fisher and available here! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Saturn 
Buy the whole Solar System! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Scale Model Solar System 

Saturn with Ring System and Earth: 3D printed accurate scale model of the Earth (diameter = 0.80 cm) and Saturn (diameter = 7.6 cm). The ring system is color printed on transparency film- note that the inner ring edge to the outermost ring measures 73000 kilometers and could fit almost 7 Earths side by side. The rings around the actual planet are very thin, about 1 kilometer thick, so the transparency film is 250 times too thick to be to scale, and even just the thin 0.010 mm ink layer on the film is 20 times thicker that the actual rings would be at this scale! Made by artist/maker Jay Fisher using images from NASA.


Mezmoglobe

These globes are now available in three colors: 
From Art of Play: BUY NOW 
Mezmoglobe Kinetic Object 

Mezmoglobe: precision machined kinetic desk toy with helical motion illusion. Give this metal sphere a spin and the imparted angular momentum (along with precision bearings) allows for sustained rotation. The spiral design converts rotational motion to translational motion, and imparts the illusion that fluid like ripples are traveling along the metal surface. Another intriguing design by Kristoph Krisjans.

Polarization Test Card

These inexpensive test cards are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Polarization Test Cards 


Get some polarizing filter sheets here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Polarizing Sheets 

Explore many aspects of polarization with this kit: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Filter Demo Kit 

See this short introduction to linear polarizing filters on Hyperphysics, and many more details on polarization from Wikipedia

Polarization Test Card: light has features that are invisible to the human eye, such as the orientation of its electric field (denoted as polarization), but can be revealed to us by a polarizing filter, used to block light with specific polarization orientations. Inexpensive test cards like this are often found in shops selling polarized sunglasses. The molecular structure of plastics can rotate the polarization of any light that passes through, and this card has such thin layers added to the top of the photo to create the hidden silhouettes seen here. 

 

Ambiguous Object Illusion Set

This wonderful and afffordabe set includes four illusion objects and a mirror:

From curiositybox.com: BUY NOW: Inq's Ambiguous Illusion Kit

Ambiguous Object Illusion Set: finally a set of these fantastic physical illusion objects available in the US for purchase. This kit comes with four objects (three shown here) invented by mathematician Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University in Japan. Polygons appear as circles in a mirror and vice versa, and the famous “stubborn arrow” that will only point to the right (or, in a mirror, to the left). I like how the base is also an ambiguous pentagon/circle, which like all these objects, is a result of a clever combination of reflection, perspective, and viewing angle. Thanks to the Vsauce team for producing this kit! 


Frozen Lightning Lamp

Quality lightning figures are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Lightning Lichtenberg Sculpture

Frozen Lightning Lamp: a Lichtenberg fractal created by electron discharge from a charged acrylic insulator. A piece of nonconducting acrylic is filled with electrons using a linear accelerator and then discharged to ground with a flash and bang- the figure is the permanent result. Electrons typically will not flow through an insulator, but a high velocity beam of them from a linear accelerator allows the electrons to tunnel deep into the plastic and build up a very large charge slowly. Such a large charge can then create a high enough voltage to create a breakdown arc which is hot enough to leave the fractal pattern. This piece is part of the Captured Lightning Sculptures series by Stoneridge Engineering LLC. 

Enantiomorphic Rattelback Pair

Get this mirror-image pair here: 

From curiositybox.com: BUY NOW: Enantiomorphic Rattlebacks

Enantiomorphic Rattleback Pair: one reverses to always spin clockwise, the other reverses to spin counter-clockwise. This behavior is related to the asymmetric shape of the bottom of this kind of rattleback, each is somewhat propeller shaped with an "S" curve along the bottom ridge. This pair are mirror images of each other (enantiomorphs) in terms of shape. When set to spin a reversal can take place due to a complicated combination of friction, precession, and instability induced vibrations which will transform the rotational energy into into rattling (energy of oscillations) and then into rotational energy in the opposite direction! Thanks to team Vsauce for bringing this set into existence.

 

Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator

Get this inexpensive version that makes big sparks!

from Engine DIY: BUY NOW: Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator

Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator: this device uses two counter rotating disks of metal pads to separate charge via induction. The repulsion felt by electrons as the triangle plates pass by each other pushes charge to flow across two conducting rods, one on each side, which allows the charge to stack up. This excess charge is then stored in old fashioned cylindrical capacitors (Leyden Jars) until the resulting 30,000+ Volts is achieved to jump the air gap. This device goes back to 1883- invented by James Wimshurst


Light Pipe Sculpture

Get an affordable pre-bent light pipe demo here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Light Pipe Demo

Blue laser pointers (445nm) available here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Blue Laser
but any color laser will work. 

Make your own abstract light pipe sculpture, an inexpesive heat gun is the only needed tool:
Materials from eBay: BUY NOW: Acrylic Rod
Tool from Amazon: BUY NOW: Heat Gun

Light Pipe Sculpture: internal reflection constrains most of the laser light to propagate along the bent acrylic rod- the physics of fiber optics. This abstract sculpture was created by applying a heat gun to a 3/8” diameter acrylic rod. The laser pointer used here is blue at a wavelength of 445nm.

Mirror Illusion Motion Bank

Sometimes available on eBay, and similar mirror illusion banks: 

From eBay: BUY NOW: Mirror Illusion Bank

Mirror Illusion Spacecraft Bank: Symmetry + Reflection = Illusion. Deposit a coin (which seems to vanish) and a spacecraft of some sort states to revolve within a silver ring seemingly suspended in space. The symmetry of the ring and craft allows a half of these objects to appear as a whole, and a AA battery powers a motor which drives gears to slowly spin the portion of the mirror inside the ring (with the spacecraft attached). The best version of the mirror illusion box I’ve seen.

 

Split Vortex Marble

Check out Raven's collection of work on Instagram: @madglasser and DM Raven if you are interested. 

Some examples of Kevin O'Grady's vortex marbles are available on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Vortex Marbles by Kevin O'Grady 

A number of artists now offer vortex marble art on Etsy 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Vortex Marbles 

Click this link for more sources of vortex marbles.

Split Vortex Marble: What does a vortex marble look like from the inside? Here are two examples of this amazing lampwork art: a split vortex marble by Raven Copeland aka @madglasser, and a classic vortex marble by the inventor of the art form Kevin O’Grady @kevinogradyglass (swipe to view). The split marble has been cut down the symmetry axis of the spiral and polished to reveal the inner workings of the vortex marble illusion, where the spherical clear glass face of such marbles acts as a convex lens giving the illusion that the spiral goes deeper than the diameter of the marble.


Fluorescence and Birefringence in Calcite

Get a sample here: 

From eBay: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 

Get inexpensive polarizing filters here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Filter Sheets

Need a UV laser pointer? Get 3 lasers (one of each color) for under $10 (including S&H): 
From eBay: BUY NOW red+green+blue(UV) laser pointers

Fluorescence and Birefringence in Calcite: two samples of calcite- each with different impurities that produce blue fluorescence for the small crystal and red fluorescence for the larger one under a 405nm violet laser. Also one can clearly see that the single laser beam takes two paths through the crystals- the speed of light in a calcite crystal depends on polarization because the refractive index is different depending on the polarization orientation of the light transmitted through it (swipe for demonstration). As a polarizing filter is rotated 90 degrees, one image appears and the other vanishes, showing that the polarization orientation of the light of the two images is indeed perpendicular. In addition the elegant rhombohedral nature of calcite crystals is obvious in this sample.

Magnetic Suspsension Sculpture

This DIY magneits sculpture can be assemebled with these parts.  Bring a magnet into a craft shop to find some necklace chain that is non-magnetic. 

From Amazon/eBay: BUY NOW: Quilting HoopNeodyumium Sphere Magnets

Magnetic Suspension Sculpture: two neodymium magnets on chains suspended by their mutual magnetic attraction in this prototype kinetic sculpture. These powerful magnets hold the chains taut with about a 2cm gap. Made from a quilting hoop where the magnets connect under their own force to steel nails soldered on to non-magnetic chain.

Exothermic Crystallization Heat Pack

Available in many sizes and colors: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Click Activated Resuable Heat Pack 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Click Activated Reusable Heat Pack 

Exothermic Crystallization Heat Pack: real-time instant crystallization of a supercooled solution. Solid sodium acetate melts at 137F (58C), but it will stay in liquid form as it cools to room temperature creating a supersaturated and supercooled state- the solution stays in the liquid form until a seed crystal, provided by clicking the metal disk, initiates the solidification. The resulting white crystal is actually quite hot; solid states have lower energy than liquid states and thus the difference in energy is given up as heat that raises the temperature back up to the melting temp, and you can see in the few seconds of the video that the temperature rises from 26C to 34C. This pack is reusable many times- just boil the pack until all the crystal is melted to reset.