Physics Lamps & Lights

Variable Hue Lamp

This fairly inexpensive hue lamp is made by IKEA and is available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
DIODER Variable Color Lamp 


Explore the physics of light and color with this excellent kit: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Thames & Kosmos Optical Science Kit

Variable Hue Lamp: Seeing color is both about the source of illumination and the reflective and absorptive properties of the observed object. These colorful images look drastically different as this illumination source cylces through a wide range of hues via variable mixtures of red, green, and blue wavelengths. A demonstration that explores some of the complexities underlying the physics and psychophysics of color vision. 

Fresnel Minor Lamp

See the gallery of work by the artist: 
Art Gallery: inquire about availability 
Sean Agustine March

Fresnel Minor Lamp: Microlayers of metals and metal oxides allow a slab of glass to transmit a different color than it reflects through thin-film optical phenomena such as interference and selective absorption. In this remarkable art piece, dichroic glass is combined with infinity mirror type multiple reflections creating this dazzling display of physics! Special thanks to @seanaugustinemarch for this amazing addition to my collection.


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Fiber Optic Cactus Lamp

Vintage fiber optic lamps like this one are available on eBay most of the time: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Vintage Fiber Optic Flower

Fiber Optic Cactus Lamp: this vintage 1980s fiber optic lamp was found at a local thrift store- and it still works! The fiber bundle is illuminated by a lamp in the base and the color shifting patterns are generated by a rotating color wheel placed between the light source and the fiber optic bundle. Fun physics at a thrift store price. 

Lava Lamp in Time-lapse

Available here in many colors and sizes: 
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Lava Lamps

Lava Lamp in Time-lapse: 15 minutes compressed into 15 seconds gives a different perspective on the processes involved in this classic physics toy from the 1960's. Mesmerizing physics of convective heat flow, Archimedes principle, and immiscible liquids. Manufactured by Mathmos and invented in 1963 by Edward Walker of Dorset England, the Lava Lamp is still popular today and is available in a wide range of colors. 


Fiber Optic Galaxy Lamp

These lamps can often be found on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Fiber Optic Lamps

Fiber Optic Galaxy Lamp: a vintage 1970s fiber optic lamp with a chrome “UFO” base. Note the beautiful spherical symmetry of the fiber spray- they don’t make them like this anymore! The fiber bundle is illuminated by a lamp in the base and the color shifting patterns are generated by a rotating color wheel placed between the light source and the fiber optic bundle. Fun physics at a thrift store price.

Diffractive Optical Element

Amazing application of high resolution far field holograms. The only available source I know of for projection holograms at this high resolution is this supplier of industrial samples 
From MaterialSampleShop.com: Diffractive Optical Element Sample 

Need a laser pointer? Incredibly, you can get 3 (one of each color) for under $20 (including S&H): 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Red+Green+Purple Laser Pointer

Diffractive Optical Element: images produced by constructive and deconstructive interference of coherent laser light. The patches of microstructure on the surface of this transparent plastic are far field holograms- transmission holograms, but with the image at infinity. Side by side images from two different laser wavelengths (red 635 nm, green 520 nm) shows clearly the red image is larger than the green since diffraction angle is proportional the wavelength. So much physics here!

RGB Color Addition

These Light Blox are available in this nice kit from Laser Classroom, a science education supplier: 
From Laser Classroom: Light, Color and Shadow Kit 

Wikipedia has a fantastic introduction on the topic of RGB Color Theory 

RGB Color Addition: three LED light boxes demonstrate the additive nature of colored light. Mixing Red, Green, and Blue to create Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan. An object casts shadows showing the following mixings: R+G=Y, G+B=C, and R+B=M. Adding all three R+G+B produces White (a little pinkish here as the Red is a little bit bright for complete white balance). RGB color addition is the basis for all computer and TV displays- all the colors you are looking at right now on your screen are made from adding pixels of R G and B in different proportions and intensities!


Ferrofluid Interactive Lava Lamp

Available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Ferrofluid Lava Lamp

Ferrofluid Interactive Lava Lamp: special ferrofluid infused wax allows manipulation of the blobs of “lava” with a weak magnet, adding an interactive element to the already mesmerizing physics of convective heat flow, Archimedes principle, and immiscible liquids. Love the atomic rocket theme on this updated version of the 1960s classic physics toy. 

Lightning 2000 Plasma Lamp

This vintage device is often available on eBay: 
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Vintage Lightning Lamp 


A similar device is available here: 
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Blue Lightning Lamp

Lightning 2000 Plasma Lamp: low pressure noble gasses glow due to discharge from high voltage. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode dome and the outer glass dome which is coated with a thin transparent film of metal. Current flow through the thin gas produces the glowing zigzagged path like that of lightning but more rounded. Shown here in 480 fps slow motion. 

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb

Got this bulb at my local Target Store in the seasonal Halloween section. Similar bulbs available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Flicker Flame Skull Bulbs 

Neon glow discharge bulbs are also fun: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Jack-o-Lantern Bulb 

and these old fashin flicker bulbs look great with the diffration glasses:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Flicker Flame Neon Bulb 

The diffraction effect glasses used here is this kind: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Diffraction Glasses

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb: no flame but instead emission spectra from excited neon gas due to the presence of a discharge electric current. The breakdown voltage of a gas (the minimum voltage needed for a current to flow) depends on the pressure of the gas in the bulb. The flickering effect comes about because the current flow will increase the temperature near it, which raises the pressure and affects the breakdown voltage near the current- so the glow from one area can only last as long as it takes to heat up and raise the breakdown voltage which kills the current in that area. In other physics, a diffraction grating shows that neon only emits light in specific wavelengths- mostly reds and yellows at AC house voltages. ?


Lava Lightning Lamp

Similar itmes available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW: Lighting Plasma Lamps

Lava Lightning Lamp: low pressure noble gasses glow due to discharge from high voltage and stimulate colored phosphors to emit yellow, blue, and red in this vintage device by Lava. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the outer glass casing which is coated with a thin transparent film of metal. Current flow through the thin gas produces the glowing zigzagged path like that of lightning but more rounded. Shown here in 240 fps slow motion. Another of my vintage plasma lamps in my collection.