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Balancing Bottles

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Bottle Dock 

Balancing Bottles: serve with physics style this season displaying this design where the combined center of mass of the wine rack and two bottles is directly above the base of the wood rack- because sometimes it takes two bottles of wine to bring life into balance! ?? 

Gas Collection for Emission Spectra

I made the display holder and I got this set of gas tubes here (about $7 per tube): 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Gas Pure Element Samples 


The breakdown voltages of the elements featured in this post are described by Paschen's Law: 
 
Here is a excellent article with an overview of the physics of glow discharge and its application in lighting and other technologies. 

Click this link for the mini Tesla coil

Gas Collection for Emission Spectra: pure samples of hydrogen, nitrogen and five noble gasses are subjected to the high frequency pulsed field of a miniature Tesla coil. Each gas has a characteristic breakdown voltage and emission spectrum- note that Nitrogen has the highest breakdown voltage and only glows when very near the coil where the field is most intense whereas Neon and Helium have the lowest breakdown voltage and begin to glow many centimeters away from the coil. The color of each gas is due to a mix of the colors emitted from electron energy transitions specific to each element- the basis of spectroscopy. The Krypton tube also exhibits interesting oscillations with this particular Tesla coil. 


Oil Drop Timer

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Drop Timer 

Oil Drop Timer: immiscible liquids (colored oil in kerosine) in two connected containers. The oil in each container falls through a small drop forming hole in between clear walls of acrylic. Note how surface tension forms the smaller drops into nearly perfect circles and limits the size of the drop formation. In addition the drops fall at terminal velocity with smaller drops falling faster than larger ones. Repost of one of my favorite inexpensive physics toys.

Chaotic Fidget

This is the exact one used in the video- works well! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Double Pendulum Chaotic Fidget 

Chaotic Fidget: a double pendulum spinner- chaos in the palm of your hand! This miniature double pendulum is made from stainless steel, which provides high mass so one can feel the unbalanced center of gravity shift about, and bearings in the joints allow for smooth and sustained motion. Slow motion reveals the intricacies of the chaotic motion, characterized by extreme sensitivity to initial starting conditions, tiny differences in how the system is released leads to dramatically different outcomes each time. 

Levitron Revolution

Get the levitating/rotating platform here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Levitron Revolution 
From eBay: BUY NOW Levitron Maglev Platform 

Versions of the floating rings illusion can be found at the Exploratorium, at the Carnegie Science Center
and is also famously featured in the 1981 Superman movie: 
 

Levitron Revolution: well engineered control system uses an adjustable electromagnet and and a Hall effect sensor to levitate an 8cm diameter neodymium magnet platform 5 cm in mid-air. The feedback loop allows fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity. The platform also rotates, perfect for this floating rings illusion sculpture I constructed. 


Raketti Puzzle

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Raketti Physics Puzzle 
From eBay: BUY NOW Raketti Physics Brain Teaser 

Raketti Puzzle: physics brain teaser- the challenge is to remove the cone topped cylinder from the hole without touching the bottom container. It can be done in a matter of seconds! The solution to this puzzle (like others featured here) relies on some fun physics principles. Answer below and swipe to reveal solution. 

Glass Hydro-Top

Available in four colors and designs: 
From the @physicsfun collection: BUY NOW: Glass Water Tops

Glass Hydro-Top: under centripetal acceleration a liquid will flow to create a cylindrical surface parallel to the axis of rotation. This blown glass dreidel contains a small amount of colored water that when spun resembles a blue gemstone banded around the rim. A unique design with fun physics!

The Lollipopter

Four styles to choose from: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Lollipopter Kinetic Art 

The Lollipopter (The Helicone): one of my favorite interactive kinetic sculpture designs. With a bit of practice one can master the transformation in both directions: A snap of the wrist imparts angular momentum to the "petals" which then rotate until an internal mechanism stops their motion with predetermined spacing- a helix transforms to an abstract pine cone. A second snap of the wrist in the opposite direction returns the helix. A creation by artist John Edmark. 

 


Well Balanced Cabernet

From Etsy: BUY NOW Balance Wine Racks 

Wood and stainless steel versions: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Wine Racks 

A nice acrylic version available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Balance Wine Rack

Well Balanced Cabernet: the center of mass of the rack/wine-bottle system is directly over the base providing unstable equilibrium for this balancing act. A fine wine rack for one bottle except during a 5+ earthquake, or if you own a cat. The oak wood for this wine rack was repurposed from the stave of a used wine barrel. 

Acrylic Rattleback

These acrylic versions work great and are inexpensive: 

From STEMCell Science: BUY NOW: Rattlebacks 

Acrylic Rattleback: a favorite from my collection- prefers to spin counter clockwise. If spun clockwise, a complicated combination of friction, precession, and instability induced vibrations transforms the rotational energy into into rattling (energy of oscillations) and then into rotational energy in the opposite direction! This behavior is related to the asymmetric shape of the bottom of this kind of rattleback, it's somewhat propeller shaped with an "S" curve along the bottom ridge

Mendocino Motor

Get one here: 

From engineDIY: BUY NOW Solar Levitating Motor (on all models here-remove brown protective film to reveal clear acrylic on rotor)

From Amazon: BUY NOW Solar Levitating Motor 

Mendocino Motor: each face of solar cell is connected to a coil of copper wire under the opposing solar cell. When the rotor is lit from above the top solar cell provides electric current to the coil in the bottom position which becomes a temporary electromagnet that pushes against the permanent magnet in the base propelling the rotor to rotate. As the rotor turns, the coil that moves into the bottom position is likewise energized by the solar cell currently at the top- one can say the light commutates this motor. 2D magnetic levitation is provided by permanent magnets where an acrylic plate constrains the third dimension, and makes for a nice bearing surface for minimal friction. Invented in the 1960s by Daryl Chapin of Bell Labs and popularized by Larry Springs of Mendocino CA 


Well Balanced Cabernet

Similar wine racks available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Balance Wine Rack 

Many well crafted versions avaulable here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW 
Wine Bottle Balance

Acrylic Wine Bottle Balance

Well Balanced Cabernet: a carefully engineered acrylic version of this famous demonstration- the center of mass of the rack/wine bottle system is directly over the base providing unstable equilibrium for this balancing act. Suspended here is Hypothesis by Roots Run Deep, an excellent Napa cabernet sauvignon. 

Shashibo Geometric Art

ORDER HERE : Shashibo Geometric Art

Shashibo Geometric Art: dissect a cube into 12 equal irregular tetrahedra, connect these pieces symmetrically with hinges, and add 36 magnets to create a device with more that 70 geometrically interesting and aesthetic configurations- a few are shown here. With practice the various transitions can flow very smoothly- this video are some of my initial explorations with this unique puzzle. 

Iron Filing Field Detector

This device and similar ones available from these fine sources: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Demonstrator Kits 
From eBay: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Demonstrator Kits 

Iron Filing Field Detector: visualizing the invisible- the magnetic field lines around a dipole bar magnet. In the presence of a magnetic field, ferromagnetic materials (such as iron) temporarily become magnets. Here the iron filings become dipole magnets and link up and align like tiny compass needles to follow and reveal the magnetic field lines associated with the permanent magnet underneath. Viscous silicone oil temporarily keeps the iron particles suspended yet allows for rotation and repositioning under the influence of the magnetic field.


Aquarius Fountain Lamp

These fountains are individually made by the artist hence they are priced as art reflecting the labor involved: 
From Etsy store of Stephen Co : BUY NOW 
Aquarius Fountain Lamp

Aquarius Fountain Lamp: an oscillating stream of water is illuminated by strobe lights to reveal underlying structures and forms typically hidden from our vision. With the help of programmable micro-controllers, strips of addressable RBG LEDs are made to flash in sequences that make the water stream appear to move upwards, change colors, and split into multiple braided streams. Art meets physics and clever technology in this wonderful creation by computer engineer Stephen Co. With sincere appreciation to Stephen @northerncircuits for sending me one of his hand crafted high tech fountains.

The ΦTop

Professor Brecher has a limited supply of these "golden" (brass) versions of this top available on Etsy 
From Etsy: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Brass 

The ΦTop - Golden Version: spinning things have surprising physics! This unique top is made of solid brass in the shape of a prolate elIipsoid- and the name of the top is derived from the following design requirement: the ratio of the semi minor (short) axis to the semi major (long) axis is made equal to the mathematical constant the golden ratio φ (phi). Invented by astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, this top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. The concave mirror keeps the top from wandering off and the glass surface has minimal friction allowing the top to spin for a long time- this video shows various stages of 8 minutes of total spin time.

Dual Axis Sand Pendulum

Available in many styles and colors: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Sand Pendulum 
From eBay: BUY NOW Sand Pendulum  

Dual Axis Sand Pendulum: the kinetic energy trades back and forth between swinging toward the support arm and then swinging perpendicular to that path tracing Lissajous figures in the sand. The sand slowly dissipates the energy and the traced figures get smaller so the next one fits inside the last. Coupled oscillations like this can occur when multiple modes of motion (degrees of freedom) are available to the system.