All physicsfun toys

Chaotic Pendulum Kinetic Art

These vintage pieces are often available on eBay. 
From Ebay: Search NOW Vintage Otagiri Kinetic Art 

Chaotic Pendulum Kinetic Art: the motion of the skateboarder is that of a pendulum influenced by magnets in the skateboard and the mirrored base- chaotic motion (in the technical sense) is the result. When set into motion the resulting path taken by the figure will never be same as the last. Made in the 1970s by Otagiri. 

Magnetic Top and Snake

Available in a variety of styles: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Magnetic Top and Snake 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Top and Snake 

Magnetic Top and Snake: the magnetic tipped top stays on the perimeter of the steel snake (or is it a planarian?)- but since the top has much more mass, the snake moves the most slithering to and fro. This kinetic art toy has been around for decades and takes advantage of Newton's 3rd law and rotational kinetic energy. 


Get a Novatrope here:

From BUY NOW: Novatropes

Novatrope: this electro-kinetic sculpture uses strobing LEDs to animate a fractal inspired spiral geometry- similar to a 3D zoetrope. The shape and motion perceived by the eye depends on the ratio of the spin rate and frequency of the strobing light (adjusted with the silver knob). Each Novatrope comes with multiple 3D printed translucent sculptures each based on phyllotactic spirals such as the well known Fibonacci curve. A wonderful new type of kinetic art infused with math, physics, and psychophysics by Brandon Keeber and his design team.

Pop Pop Boat

Get one here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Pop-Pop Boat 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Pop-Pop Boats 

Wikipedia has the details on the physics and history of this little steamboat toy 

Pop-Pop Boat: birthday candle powered, super simple steam engine named after the sound it makes when operating. The engine is just a metal box, heated by the candle, with two pipes coming out of it. Steam builds up pushing water out with an explosive pop- which then creates a vacuum sucking more water in to repeat the process. Patented in 1915 these were very popular in the 1940's.

Singularity V3: Vertical Nano Array Absorber

Gat a sample of Singularity V3 here:

From KickStarter: BUY NOW: Singularity V3

Vertical Nanotube Array Absorber: the Singularity V3 uses a nano-forest of carbon to absorb 99.9% of light incident perpendicular to its surface making this coating one of the darkest synthetic surfaces available. The surface of nanotubes is quite fragile so these samples come with an acrylic case with removable cover. Thanks to Singularity Designs for sending me this nice sample.

Impossible Caged Golf Ball 

Some nice versions of this impossible object available here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Golf Ball in Wood Cage

See more of these thought puzzles in my collection here: Impossible Objects

Impossible Caged Golf Ball: Here a regular off-the-shelf golf ball somehow trapped within a cage made from a solid piece of hardwood walnut. Neither the ball nor the wood were cut or glued in the fabrication process. The puzzle aspect is to consider how this object was produced (I have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist).

Impossible Bottle with Corkscrew

Contact Davide here to obtain one of his amazing sculptures:

From BUY NOW: Impossible Objects

Click here to see other items in my collection of Impossible Objects

Impossible Bottle with Corkscrew: this beautiful work of art by @dp.fumagalli was created with clever engineering and expert craftwork. I love everything about this sculpture- from the inverted corkscrew theme to the shape of the bottle- and the artist’s delightful logo (an optical illusion- swipe for details). The puzzle aspect is to consider how the bottle was produced (I personally have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist). I can tell you with high certainty that the bottle was never cut or altered in anyway, and everything in the bottle, somehow, went through its narrow neck. With special thanks to Davide Fumagalli (aka the Impossible Maker) for this wonderful addition to my collection.

Phase Locking Folk Toy: Hooey Stick

Versions of the Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle available from these sources:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Hooey Stick Folk Toy
From Amazon: BUY NOW Hooey Stick Folk Toy
From eBay: BUY NOW Hooey Stick Folk Toy

Phase Locking Folk Toy: rubbing the stick over the notches creates both vertical and horizontal vibrations- and leads to an elliptical motion of the nail in the center of a propeller, which begins to rotate due to friction with the nail. This toy is called a Gee-Haw Wimmy Diddle (see the Wikipedia page- I kid you not) or a Hooey Stick. Note that depending on how the stick is held, the propeller will spin clockwise or counterclockwise. 

Phase Locking Folk Toy 2.0

This plastic version of the toy is from the 1990s and I'm not sure of its orgin. However, it is not hard to construct these toys. 

See the regular version here: Phase Locking Folk Toy

A detailed physics analysis of this toy was publisehd in 2018 (open acess): Physics of the mechanical toy Gee-Haw Whammy Diddle

Versions of the regular Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle available from these sources:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Hooey Stick Folk Toy
From Amazon: BUY NOW Hooey Stick Folk Toy
From eBay: BUY NOW Hooey Stick Folk Toy

Phase Locking Folk Toy 2.0: this version of the “hooey stick” toy has two rotors- and often they will rotate in opposite directions! (Shown here in slow motion for clarity.) Just as with the regular version of this toy (see yesterday’s post) rubbing the stick over the notches creates vibrations- and can lead to an up and down motion of the shaft in the center of the rotors. The hole in each rotor is larger than the shaft, and when the shaft/notched stick is vibrating it only touches the rotor for a short time each cycle- if the timing is right the stick collides with the rotor such that friction gives it nudge with each vibration to set it spinning- and this can work either clockwise or counterclockwise. Sometimes they spin the same direction and sometimes opposite, which seems to depend on initial conditions and a bit of luck. 

Vibration Unthreading

Get inexpensive small motors and accesories for DIY projects here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW DC Motors Kit

A DIY project to see if just shaking a bolt at the right frequency could make a standard nut rotate and fall off. Similar physics to the phase locking propeller toy featured in my last post. Motivated by videos seen on Instagram where a brass bolt is placed in magnetic putty and the nut mysteriously rotates up and off- now convinced that vibration is how that effect is produced. Here a small DC motor spins an offset mass to produce the vibrations.