Physics Lamps & Lights

Lava Lamp in Time-lapse

Available here in many colors and sizes: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
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.

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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. 

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!


Lightning 2000 Plasma Lamp

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


A similar device is available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
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. 

Fluorescent Ooze Tube with UV Laser

Click these links for ooze tube sources (green works best).
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW 
Ooze Tube 

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Ooze Tube 

Get an inexpensive UV laser pointer here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
UV (405 nm) Laser pointer 

Fluorescent Ooze Tube with UV Laser: stunning visual effects from a 405 nm laser pointer interacting with the viscous polyisobutene fluid in this ooze tube timer toy. The fluorescent dye converts the UV laser light to visible green light as the fluid stretches into thin ropes that act as light pipes while bubbles reflect and fan the beam. Perhaps the next generation Lava Lamp? 

 

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!


Bright Mineral Fluorescence

Nice specimens can be found here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Fluorescent Mineral Specimens

The floursecne can only be achived using short wave UV lamps whace can be expensive. Less expensive used and vintage devices are often found here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Short Wave UV Lamps

Bright Mineral Fluorescence: under short wave ultraviolet light Willemite fluoresces bright green and Calcite (with trace percent Manganese activator) glows orange-pink in this spectacular specimen from the Sterling Hill zinc mine out of New Jersey. The brilliant colors of fluorescence seen here come from exposing the rock to short wave UV (less than 280nm) using a vintage Mineralight brand light. 

 

KaleidoFlow Fluid Display Cell: The Glorb

KaleidoFlow fluid and associated devices available here:

From Laminar Sciences Corp: BUY NOW: KaleidoFlow Rheoscopic Fluid

KaleidoFlow Fluid Cell: the phenomenon of streaming birefringence colorfully reveals the temporary sheer stresses induced in a liquid by a moving plastic sphere. The “Glorb” device design features a cylindrical cell with polarizing filters as the top and bottom windows and filled with this special rheoscopic fluid and a plastic bead. This assembly then slides into a base with white LEDs to supply backlighting. Many thanks to Laminar Sciences Corp for supplying this beautiful display cell and bottles of KaleidoFlow fluid for experimentation.

Slow Dance

This finally crated kinetic art piece avaiable here: 

From Wonder Machines: BUY NOW: Slow Dance

From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Slow Dance

Slow Dance: a kinetic sculpture via induced vibration and high speed strobe lighting in which objects exhibit subtle and beautiful motion when mounted within this special frame. I love how the electromagnet, with its beautiful copper windings, is prominently featured at the bottom of the frame. Electronics within the frame send AC currents to the electromagnet which then pushes and pulls magnets on each side. These magnets are affixed to leaf springs to which feathers, flowers, and other objects are attached with elastic bands. The arrangement is then illuminated by LEDs set to strobe at just the right frequency to produce the slow dance illusion.


Pearlescent Metallic Lava Lamp

Get this metallic lava version here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Metallic Lava Lamp

From explOratorium store: BUY NOW: Metallic Lava Lamp

See aslo: Magnetic Ferrofluid Lava Lamp

The Lava Lamp: with new pearlescent metallic “lava”- kinetic art with an amazing amount of physics on display: convective heat flow, Archimedes principle, surface tension (note how the smaller blobs form into spheres), and immiscible liquids to name just some of the science behind this famous device. In this loop one can see shock waves ripple through the blobs as they detach, and as they recombine at the bottom. Manufactured by Mathmos and invented in 1963 by Edward Walker of Dorset, England. 

Ferrofluid Interactive Lava Lamp

Available here:
From Etsy: 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. 


Star Wars Mouse Ears

Get a set of high tech ears here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW Star Wars Mickey Ears

From eBay: BUY NOW Star Wars Mickey Ears

Mickey Mouse Physics: the Millennium Falcon battles TIE fighters in a three panel animation printed on layers of optical acrylic. Red, green, and blue LEDs switch on and off lighting the layers sequentially in a loop producing the animated scene from Star Wars. Light from the LED attached to a specific layer undergoes multiple internal reflections as it passes through the clear plastic illuminating mostly that layer- the same principle employed in fiber optic cables. Disney + Lucasfilm = mouse ears of the future! 

Celestial Sphere: the Stars of the Night Sky

Created by Clemens & Christoph of CinkS labs: Available in a cube too! 
From CinkS Labs: BUY NOW: Celestial Spheres

Celestial Sphere: the positions of 5068 stars as they appear in the night sky- along with 88 constellations, laser etched into a crystal sphere. This globe includes all stars of sixth magnitude or brighter- basically all the stars that the average and unaided human eye can see in the sky. The Milky Way in a Sphere: the distribution of stars in our home galaxy, laser etched into a crystal sphere, according to the most recent telescopic surveys and mappings- including the stars in the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (a small galaxy that is simultaneously orbiting and getting absorbed into the Milky Way) and the major globular clusters outside the main disk

Neon Plasma Glass

Each glass is unique and comes with tesla coil base:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Glass by TeslaCoilPro

Neon Plasma Glass: these double walled glass mugs glow orange and blue from the excitation spectrum of neon gas at low pressure. The base contains a high frequency transformer (Tesla coil) that generates high voltage electric fields (but at very low current) from USB rechargeable batteries- which excites the neon to glow, and also serves as a coaster. The inner volume varies in thickness which leads to variations in heat and pressure which in turn produces different excitations (orange and blue) of the neon gas in patterns that dance and dazzle the eye. Stunningly beautiful kinetic art and tech by creator Zerg Dragonymous.