Many designs to choose from- all with precision aligned high quality front surface mirrors:
From Etsy store Colorado Scopes : BUY NOW Precision Teleidoscopes
Fine art kaleidoscopes avaibable here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Fine Art Kaleidoscopes
Get a Gyrobi here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Gyrobi Kinetic Toy
Kaleidoscope Symmetry Physics: Two adjacent mirrors form the repeating image of a kaleidoscope, but the shape of the image is determined by the angle between the mirrors. This principle is demonstrated with three different symmetrical patterns using this beautiful set of precision teleidoscopes- angles of 36° (blue tube), 30° (green tube), and 22.5° (red tube), creating mandala stars with 5, 6, and 8 points. The angle for any symmetric star pattern of n points is just 180°/n. A teleidoscope is a kaleidoscope but with a lens on the end, such that the kaleidoscopic image is formed by whatever is put in front of it. Here the complex motion of a Gyrobi toy is used as the observation object.
Get this 3-color laser cut acrylic version here:
From Kadon Enterprises: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle
Also a very nice multicolor acyrlic version here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle
Learn about the 1998 discovery of the lost writings of Archimedes (and the technology used to recover them) in this TED talk.
Ancient Stomachion Puzzle: the oldest known puzzle, discovered in the writings of the great Greek physicist and mathematician Archimedes from some 2200 years ago. The puzzle is a dissection of a square into 14 polygons, where the areas of each piece are integer multiples of each other (a curious way to slice it up). In 2003 Bill Cutler showed that there are 536 district ways to configure these pieces to make the square (five are shown here), ignoring simple rotations and reflections. Swipe to see the most famous solution, attributed to Archimedes himself, that was found in an ancient manuscript discovered only in 1998- before this date historians knew the name of the puzzle, but no one knew what it looked like. Kate Jones, the maker of this particularly aesthetic version, found that when using only three colors for the polygons, there are only 6 solutions where no two pieces of the same color touch (four solutions shown here).
Get one here:
From Edicational Innovations: BUY NOW: Switch Pitch Ball
Switch Pitch Ball: this spherical assembly changes color by turning inside out when tossed into the air. A favorite of my mechanical toys with surprising physics. Interestingly the advertisements for this toy incorrectly claim air drag is involved in the transformation. To understand why the ball inverts first note that the ball is made of multiple components hinged together. In launching the ball from the hand an upward acceleration results in a torque that pivots each component around its center of mass, causing the rotation of these components in an organized way leading to the transformation. Imagine tossing a stick straight up. If the stick is perfectly vertical upon launch it will move straight up- but if it is initially slanted at all it will also begin to rotate upon launch. Similar physics underlies the motion of each component of the ball- shown here in 240 fps slow motion. The Switch Pitch is produced by the makers of the Hoberman Sphere.
I made the display holder and I got this set of gas tubes here (about $9 per tube):
From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Gas Pure Element Samples
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Tesla Coil
For the price, this is the best one on the market- and beautiful to look at in copper- and it comes with three accessories for the top. Please be sure to employ all appropriate safety precautions when utilizing any electrical circuity!
The mount is made by driling holes in this acrylic tube: 4" Acrylic Tube
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 to see the mini Tesla coil in action
Emission Spectra Gas Samples: 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 begins to glow after the presence of my hand temporarily lowers the resistance to current flow for that tube. 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. Notice also that the purple color of the brush discharge at the top of the Tesla coil matches closely to the color of the nitrogen sample, which makes sense as air is 78% nitrogen.
Available on Etsy: BUY NOW Gold Ferrofluid Cell
Golden Ferrofluid: colloidal ferromagnetic liquid in a specially prepared water-alcohol suspension. Curious behavior results from the interplay between magnetic force and surface tension. I'm still investigating the gold coloring and the specific makeup of the clear suspension fluid- both trade secrets it seems. The gold color appears to be a thin coating at the boundary between the ferrofluid and the suspension liquid.
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.
For the price, this is the best one on the market I think and beautiful to look at in copper- the music function does not do much, but it is a great little Tesla coil and it comes with three accessories for the top. Please be sure to employ all appropriate safety precautions when utilizing any electrical circuity!
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Tesla Coil
Tesla Coil: miniature low current version of the famous air core double-tuned resonate transformer invented by Nikola Tesla in 1891. The thick copper of the primary coil is set into three windings around the many windings of the tall secondary coil. This one uses a modern transistor circuit to excite the radio frequency oscillations that produce a voltage in excess of 50kV in the form of pulses that cycle about 100k times a second. This version is fed by a 24V DC power supply and is fairly safe due to a low current (mA)- but the circuitry does get hot and demands a huge heat sink with fan (the metal base can burn skin when operating). The coils comes with attachments- the spike produces a purple corona discharge as the voltage exceeds the breakdown voltage of air with current flowing into the air or arcing over to a grounded piece of metal. The corona discharge imparts momenta, and here the ends of a bent wire are set into rotation from the slight push of the escaping electrons. Swipe to see the ejected electron stream propel the end of a thin wire into a final state circular orbit. The more interesting behavior occurs during the initial transient orbits which seem to be hypotrochoid type curves beautifully captured here using the Slow Shutter app.
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Metal Balance Bird and Stand
From eBay: BUY NOW
Metal Balance Bird and Stand
Metal Balance Bird: weights in the wing tips create a center of mass below the bird's beak- making a system in stable equilibrium. No magnets! This is the nicest version of this toy I’ve seen- with bird and iconic stand cast in zinc alloy metal.
Get this cube here:
from Amazon: BUY NOW: CMY Cube
CMY Color Cube: physics and psychophysics of color perception demonstrated with this acrylic art object. Thin films cover parallel sides of the transparent cube in cyan, magenta, and yellow which comprise the elements of the CMY subtractive color model- viewing the cube through various angles allows exploration of multiple and interesting combinations of the CMY elements.
See also: the CMYK model and colorspace on Wikipedia.
Get a nice 3D print made here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Heart Gears
Or print it yourself:
From Thingverse: Download Free: Heart Gears Print Files
Heart Gears: This 3D print is guaranteed to put your heart in a twist- comprised of eight bevel gears attached to an octahedron center block, with the axis of each gear oriented to the center of each face of the octahedron. Rotate any one gear 360 degrees and the heart shape will reform. Another amazing design by Emmett Lalish, first printed in 2014.
Similar devices available here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Mirascope
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mirascope
Mirascope: two parabolic mirrors create a 3D image above the actual object. A repost of one of my favorite physics toys ever. The image of the dice made here is not a hologram and is produced solely by reflection of light rays between special concave mirrors. Discovered circa 1969 by Landry and Elings at UC Santa Barbara.
Get this precision machined and balanced desk pendulum here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Double Chaotic Pendulum
Mini Double Pendulum: the intricate dance of chaotic motion from a simple assembly of two physical pendulums (one attached to the end of the other) with the energy of the system moving frenetically back and forth between the potential energy of gravity to the kinetic energy of motion. Chaotic motion (shown here in 240 fps slow motion) is characterized by extreme sensitivity to initial starting conditions, tiny differences in how the system is released leads to dramatically different outcomes each time. This well made precision bearing double pendulum is made by Doug Cvelbar.
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.
These specimens from Pakistan currently available in a wide selection of sizes here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Petrolium Quartz Crystals
Get an inexpensive magnifier with UV LED here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: 40X Jeweler LED UV Magnifier
Caliper type display stands available here (chrome or brass):
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Caliper Display Stand
Petroleum Inclusions in Quartz: this doubly terminated (pointy at both ends) clear quartz crystal has small chambers filled with petroleum oil and small bubbles of methane gas- trapped within the crystal since its formation about 100 million years ago. Under ultraviolet light the fluorescent oil emits bright blue and green light showing the presence of the many chambers in the crystal, some quite small. Through the lens of a 40x loupe magnifier one can see a bubble float about as the crystal is rotated (swipe to view). These crystals are mainly found and mined from the Zhob Valley in Pakistan.
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.
Get this curiosity here:
From Art of Play: BUY NOW: The O-Cube
Trapped Sphere in Cube: a surprising aspect of the geometry of spheres and cubes- carved from a single block of wood is a sphere trapped within a cube frame. A classic folk woodworking novelty reconceived here with precision machining to create this seemingly impossible object.
Glass divers available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Glass Divers or this complete set Cartesian Diver Kit
Inexpensive and fun diver kits to make in a bottle available here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Cartesian Diver Kits
Cartesian Divers: increasing pressure on the water compresses the air bubbles in the small glass vials filling them further with water making them sink. Pascal's principle states that any change in pressure on an enclosed fluid (such as pushing on the rubber cover) is transmitted evenly to every part of the fluid- the physics of hydraulic brakes! Named after the physicist and philosopher Rene Descartes.