Magnetic Toys

Bismuth Maglev Rod

Get this amazing and affordable science sculptue here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Bismuth Maglev Rod

Click here to see other diamagnetic toys and scuptures 

Bismuth Maglev Rod: Small magnets are trapped, suspended and floating, within the notch of a rod cast from the diamagnetic metal bismuth. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the small floating magnet supplies the external field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though, so a powerful neodymium magnet sits above the gap on the top of the rod, and its height is adjusted to help lift the small magnet against gravity. Another amazing creation by Ernie McElhannon of Element83.

Feel Flux Loop

Available as a set, or individually (all come with the super powerful sphere magnet) here:

From feelflux.com: BUY NOW: Copper + Aluminum Feel Flux

Get some magnetic viewing film here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film 

Feel Flux Loop: original (copper) and the "Skill Flux" version (aluminum)- toys that use Lenz's Law to manipulate a very strong neodymium magnet. A changing magnetic field (such as that from a falling magnet) induces an electric current in the copper, which in turn produce an electromagnetic field (but of lesser strength) with opposing polarity. Interestingly the magnet falls a bit faster through the aluminum even though the walls are thicker- Al is only about 60% as conductive as Cu- so it takes more material to induce the needed magnetic field using aluminum. Interestingly the Al tube is about half the mass of the Cu one, even though it is larger in volume. Swipe to see the effect via magneview film which allows a visualization of the magnetic field- note that the field extends and is visible right through the thick copper.

Dipole Magnet and Iron Filings

Get this set here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Viewing Cylinder

Dipole Magnet and Iron Filings: visualizing the invisible- the magnetic field lines around a dipole 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 end to end to follow and reveal the magnetic field lines associated with the permanent magnet within the hollow tube. 


Rattlesnake Eggs

Get a set here! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Buzzing Magnet Set 

Rattlesnake Eggs: polished barium- strontium ferrite ceramic magnets influence each other when many centimeters apart. Turn sound on--Wait for it! Sold as "buzzers" these magnets come together with multiple bounces creating a characteristic zipper sound. Most shops and online vendors incorrectly label these as hematite- a completely different substance that does not magnetize well. 

Magneview Flim

Get some magnetic viewing film here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Film 

Magneview Flim: making the invisible visible and revealing the hidden physics of our everyday world. Microscopic cavities in this green film are filled with oil and tiny flakes of Nickel metal- like compass needles, the flakes align with the magnetic fields revealing the complexity of the north and south pole domains of these magnets. Two of the disk magnets have multiple north and south poles and look like gears with teeth- these are rotors from small motors. 

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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. 

Electromagnetic Levitation Module

Get this kit here (comes complete as shown in my video):
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Magnetic Levitation Module

The featured sculture is by Bathsheba Grossman, affordable and beautiful math art available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Soliton Sculpture

Electromagnetic Levitation Module: this engineered control system uses adjustable electromagnets (four copper coils) and and two Hall effect magnetic field sensors (held firm embedded in white silicone) to levitate an 5cm diameter neodymium magnet platform about 3 cm in mid-air. A feedback loop informed by the Hall effect sensors allows fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity, and is powered by a standard USB connection. The platform also rotates, perfect for showcasing one of my metal 3D printed mathematical sculptures by Bathsheba Grossman.

Bismuth Diamagnetic Trap Levitation

See more of Ernie's amazing creations here in his Etsy shop Element83 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Magnetic Levitation Sculptures

Bismuth Diamagnetic Trap Levitation: neodymium cube magnet trapped between two pieces of strongly diamagnetic bismuth crystal. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the cube shaped magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so two large ceramic magnets are placed on each side and adjusted to help lift the cube magnet against gravity. Trapped in equilibrium by these magnetic fields, the slightest air currents can send the cube magnet dancing. Another amazing creation by Ernie McElhannon.


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.

The Levitron

Levitron Tops were produced in the 1990s and are out of production and getting harder to find. Some models are still available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Levitron Top 

The Levitron: spin stabilized magnetic levitation- will fly for about 3 minutes or more per launch. The spin rate of the magnetic top must be just right for flight, not too fast or too slow. Air resistance and dissipative interactions between the magnets gradually slow the spin rate and the top falls. Interestingly trapping the top requires precision - the weight of the top must be adjusted to within 1 gram to achieve equilibrium between the pull of gravity and the magnetic repulsion from the large donut shaped magnet in the wood base. Repost of my favorite physics toy in my collection.


Feel Flux

Get one here: 
From feelflux.com: BUY NOW Feel Flux 

Feel Flux: a toy utilizing Lenz's Law- a very strong neodymium magnet falls slowly down a copper tube as though passing through a viscous liquid. Moving magnetic fields produce electric currents in a conductor (such as copper). These currents then produce magnetic fields that have the opposite polarity to the initial field. So a falling magnet makes the copper tube briefly into an electromagnet that repels the magnet.

The Alchemist

Bismuth levitation available here: 
From Etsy- Element 83: BUY NOW Magnetic Levitation Sculptures 
featuring amazing Bismuth Crystals, Jewelry, and Maglev Kinetic Art

Circa 1981, Physicists transmute Bismuth to Gold: Particle accelerators make possible the ancient alchemist’s dream—but at a steep cost 

The Alchemist: cast from diamagnetic Bismuth, a neodymium cube magnet levitates trapped between the hands of the ancient scholar. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the cube shaped magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a cylindrical neodymium magnet hangs above the figure and is adjusted to help lift the cube magnet against gravity. Trapped in equilibrium by these magnetic fields, the slightest air currents can send the cube magnet dancing. Although alchemists never succeeded in transmuting lead to gold, in 1981 physicists used the particle accelerator at Berkeley to shoot Carbon nuclei at thin foils of Bismuth- the resulting collisions did produced a tiny amount of Gold atoms! So modern nuclear physics, applied to the element Bismuth, finally accomplished the aspirations of the alchemists. ?Another amazing creation by Ernie McElhannon. 

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Gravity Defying Nail and Magnet

Neodymium magnets will produce the largest gap when suspending a nail.
Please use exterme caution when handling these magnets. 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neodymium Super Magnet

Magnetic Defiance of Gravity: a nail suspended between a chain and a powerful neodymium magnet. Ferromagnetic attraction over a distance of many millimeters, and a reminder of the presence of the typically invisible electromagnetic forces all around us. Make your own with a paperclip, string, and a refrigerator magnet- or get a neodymium magnet and see how massive an object you can suspend in air. 

Chaotic magnetic Pendulum

These chaotic pendula are still available on eBay!

From eBay: BUY NOW: Krazy Leg Pendulum

Chaotic Magnet Pendulum: adding magnetic forces to gravity gives this pendulum chaotic motion- not random, but very sensitive to slight differences in initial launch conditions. Swipe to see a particular launch path that begins with a semi-stable orbit but then goes chaotic, captured with an attached LED and recorded with a slow shutter app. Arranging the dipoles magnets on the base leads to different patterns of motion- here white attracts and black repels. This vintage device is from the 1970s and was sold by the name “Krazy Leg” by Rathcon Inc.

Ferromagnetic Interaction

Here is the NdFeB neodymium magnet used in this video:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neodymium Disk Magnet

Please use cuation when handeling strong magnets like this one. Small nails, paperclips, staples and other houlshold object made with iron will interact interestingly with the magnetic feild. 

Ferromagnetic Interaction: iron rich nails temporarily become dipole magnets in the presence of an intense magnetic field from a large neodymium super magnet. Here the neodymium disk magnet is set with its north pole pointing up, so the point of each nail becomes a south pole (repelling each other) and the head of each a north pole. Imbued with these temporary induced fields, the nails will try to align themselves with the neodymium dipole’s field like compass needles, and the nails will interact with each other in interesting ways.