Budget physics

LEDs as PV Cells

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

LEDs are really inexpensive these days- for $10 get this assortment of 350 LEDs to experiiment with:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: LED assortment 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

For well explained details of the physics see this amazing video by Steve Mould

LEDs as PV Cells: the physics of solar cells (photovoltaic cells) is the reverse process of LEDs (light emitting diodes). Shown here is a very simple circuit I soldered together- a blue LED and red LED connected. When a stream of energetic photons (from a 405nm violet laser pointer) is directed onto the blue diode it produces enough current to power and light the red diode! I saw this demo from fellow physicist @richardvandewege and had to reproduce it for my collection- check out his profile for more fantastic physics via creative demonstrations. 

Mini Balance Pterosaur

Get similar prehistoric balance beasts here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Pterosaur

Mini Balance Pterosaur: weights in the forward wing tips create a center of mass below this pterosaur's beak- making a system that can rotate and oscillate about a stable equilibrium condition. No magnets used or needed for this physics! Usually this toy is found in the form of a bird (direct dinosaur descendent). Pterosaurs are not dinosaurs, but are the largest animals to ever fly, and powered flight has only evolved four times: bats, birds, pterosaurs, and insects- in reverse order. 

Cartesian Jellyfish Divers

Get these charming jellyfist here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Jellyfish Divers

Cartesian Jellyfish: increasing pressure in the water compresses air bubbles inside the plastic capsules, filling them further with water making them sink in this cute version of the famous Cartesian Diver toy. In this whimsical version the jellyfish also spin when the pressure is released as the water is channeled out of the capsule/head in a sideways jet. Pascal’s principle states that any change in pressure on an enclosed fluid (such as squeezing the plastic bottle) is transmitted evenly to every part of the fluid- the physics of hydraulic brakes! Named after the physicist and philosopher Rene Descartes.


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Radiometer

The Curiosity Box: an excellent way to start your own physics toy collection! 
Get (or give!) a Curiosity Box subscription here: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box

Radiometers of many shapes and sizes are avialable here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Radiometers

Radiometer: This device goes way back, invented in 1873 by the famous chemist Sir William Crookes when he was investigating partial vacuum environments. Light heats up the “vanes” which then heat up the very thin gas left in the partial vacuum within the bulb- the black side of the vane is hotter than the silver side and any gas molecule that comes into contact with it flies off at a faster speed imparting impulse to the rotor. 


Spinning Liquid Pen

Get this pen set here (dolphin, turtle, polar bear, penguin):

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spinning Liquid Motion Pens

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Spinning Liquid Pen: two immiscible fluids (three if you count the air bubble) are sorted under gravity by density with the densest on the bottom and the lightest on top. When the container is rotated, the boundary between the layers forms a parabola due to the added influence of centripetal acceleration as seen here in 240 fps slow motion. The plastic dolphin has a density between that of the two liquids so it stays at the boundary layer. A rather silly toy- but so much physics to explore here! 


Trisected Sphere Puzzle

Get one here (color of your choice):

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Trisected Sphere Puzzle

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Trisected Sphere Puzzle: three identical pieces interlock to form a ball in this elegant 3D printed dissection puzzle. The sphere is sliced following a helical path from one pole to the opposite pole, creating a smooth disassembly and reassembly.

See other fun geometric puzzles here: dissection puzzles

Kluster Magnetic Challenge Game

Get this fun magnetic game here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Kluster Magnet Game

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Kluster Magnetic Challenge Game: explore mysterious action at distance via magnetic fields with this fun game setup. Note how the polished barium-strontium ferrite ceramic magnets repel each other when properly oriented, but once one flips over the unstable equilibrium gives way to the north/south attraction, and they quickly snap together. The game is played by taking turns placing the magnets within the boundary of the cord without any jumping together- the first to place all their magnets in the loop without any “clustering” wins, if some do cluster you take those magnets and lose your turn. Comes with the cord and a nice velvet storage bag.

Radiometers

Radiometers available from these sources: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Radiometer  (with disk shaped vanes)

A wide variety available here, including some nice blown glass displays: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Radiometers 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Radiometers: three “light mills” from my growing collection of radiometers (now at 23 so far), including a double with two spinning flys in the same partial vacuum volume. Here the initial light is from a LED, and then a halogen incandescent bulb is turned on which activates the motion. This device goes way back, invented in 1873 by the famous chemist Sir William Crookes when he was investigating partial vacuum environments. Light heats up the “vanes” which then heat up the very thin gas left in the partial vacuum within the bulb- the black side of the vane is hotter than the silver side and any gas molecule that comes into contact with it flies off at a faster speed imparting impulse to the rotor.


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Holographic Angel Specs

Get these this animated angel design and many more here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Holiday Specs Holographic Glasses 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

See more designes here: Holospecs & Tree Lights

Holographic Angel Specs: put on these spectacles and fairy-like tiny angels will suddenly appear around every point source of light!- fluttering their wings as you tilt your head. The “lenses” in these glasses are actually transmission holograms but with the image located at the farthest point in the depth of field. Made by @americanpaperoptics3d with many more images available(see recent post), and some incorporate animation, like the wings on these angels.


Convection Turbine Tree

Available here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Tea Light Turbine Tree

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Convection Turbine Tree: a simple turbine heat engine where rotational motion results from the convection of hot air from the candle flame. All moving parts are of thin stainless steel. Energy transfer: chemical bonds- to heat- to kinetic energy of the rising air- to rotational kinetic energy of the turbine and tree. 

Symmetric Sticks Puzzle

Geometry as art and play-- get this affordable puzzle here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Symmetric Sticks Puzzle

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Symmetric Sticks Puzzle: 30 identical pieces, each with two notches as shown, can create 12 interlocking pentagons in a perfect symmetry- look carefully and you can see that each rod is in an identical configuration with the 4 others that connect with it. Precision notches on the rods allow them to interlock with elastic tension such that vector sum of the 4 forces sum to zero in this tensegrity type equilibrium. The dodecahedron, with its 30 edges and 12 sides, is the basis of this puzzle sculpture.

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