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Frozen Lightning Lamp

Quality lightning figures are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Lightning Lichtenberg Sculpture

Frozen Lightning Lamp: a Lichtenberg fractal created by electron discharge from a charged acrylic insulator. A piece of nonconducting acrylic is filled with electrons using a linear accelerator and then discharged to ground with a flash and bang- the figure is the permanent result. Electrons typically will not flow through an insulator, but a high velocity beam of them from a linear accelerator allows the electrons to tunnel deep into the plastic and build up a very large charge slowly. Such a large charge can then create a high enough voltage to create a breakdown arc which is hot enough to leave the fractal pattern. This piece is part of the Captured Lightning Sculptures series by Stoneridge Engineering LLC. 

Tensegrity for the Desk

Get this affordable physics tensegrity sculpture here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Tensegrity Sculpture

Tensegrity for the Desk: an elegant, and stackable, desk toy version of this popular tensegrity configuration by maker/designer Micah Murdoch. Constructed from poplar wood, the design assembles easily with clever ball and socket connectors at the ends of the nylon support lines (3 long, 1 short). Stacking them seems to only increase the illusion of floating with the subtle way these structures defy gravity. Another fun configuration of tensegrity concept, invented by Kenneth Snelson and made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949.

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.

In-Feed Google

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. 

Hero's Engine

This live steam engine is available here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Hero's Engine

Hero’s Engine: the very first steam engine ever devised, the Aeolipile is a radial steam jet reaction turbine, an a invention attributed to Hero of Alexandria in the year 1 AD. Water within the spherical container is heated to produce steam which exits through nozzles directed at right angles to the radial direction, and by Newton’s third law these jets produce a torque about the rotation axis. There is no historical record of this engine being put to practical use in ancient times- except perhaps as the world’s first physics toy!

Ambiguous Object Illusion Set

This wonderful and afffordabe set includes four illusion objects and a mirror:

From BUY NOW: Inq's Ambiguous Illusion Kit

Ambiguous Object Illusion Set: finally a set of these fantastic physical illusion objects available in the US for purchase. This kit comes with four objects (three shown here) invented by mathematician Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University in Japan. Polygons appear as circles in a mirror and vice versa, and the famous “stubborn arrow” that will only point to the right (or, in a mirror, to the left). I like how the base is also an ambiguous pentagon/circle, which like all these objects, is a result of a clever combination of reflection, perspective, and viewing angle. Thanks to the Vsauce team for producing this kit! 

Nova Plexus Tensegrity Puzzle

Precisions machined and available in brass or stainless steel:

From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Nova Plexus Puzzle

Nova Plexus Puzzle: 12 identical brass rods can create 4 interlocking triangles in a perfect symmetry- look carefully and you can see that each rod is in an identical configuration with the 5 others that connect with it. Precision machined notches on the ends of the rods allow them to interlock with elastic tension such that vector sum of the 5 forces on each rod is zero- creating this astonishing geometry as the equilibrium state. Unlock the ends of any two rods and the system instantly disassembles (swipe to view process in slow motion). Invented/designed by artist and computer scientist Geoff Wyvill in 1978, this puzzle has just recently been made available for sale with a limited production run.

Feel Flux Loop

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

From 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.

The Random Walker

Galton Board version available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Galton Board 

The Random Walker: second model of two Galton Boards designed and produced by this version is made to demonstrate probability in investment returns of a global stock market portfolio relating to risk capacity. Slow motion reveals the erratic path of each steel ball (second half of video). The red graph shows the distribution of 592 monthly returns (mean =1%, SD=5%) representing data from 50 years of an IFA Index fund- here the random “walk” of 3000 steel balls falling through 12 levels of branching paths always produce a close match, and both distributions tend toward the famous bell curve distribution. A wonderfully designed modern version of the Galton Box invented by Sir Francis Galton(1894) to demonstrate the Central Limit Theorem - showing how random processes gather around the mean.

Arrow on Mobius Strip

Get this 3D printed object of math topology here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Mobius Strip with Arrow

Arrow on Möbius Strip: on the geometry of a Möbius strip a right pointing arrow points left after one trip around, a second trip restores the original orientation. This mathematical property is called non-orientability, and is also true of Klein bottles which I’ve posted about. I love how this 3D printed model, designed and produced by Wes Pegden, allows one to physically manipulate and intuit this somewhat obscure mathematical property. 

The Holoscope: Icosahedron

Order a holoscope from the artist's gallery here: 
The artwork of Gary Allison: BUY NOW 

Look through other holoscopes in my collection here: Holoscope Kaleidoscopes

The Holoscope Icosahedron: the intricate beauty of multiple internal reflections from 20 triangular mirrors in the shape of this famous platonic solid. The interior is viewed from one corner and illuminated by light entering from glass spheres placed at all of the other 11 vertices. A type of kaleidoscope based on mirrored polyhedra by artist Gary Allison, (swipe to see the dodecahedron and cube) and future posts will include tetrahedron and octahedron holoscope forms as I complete my Platonic solids set. Each holoscope has stained glass on the exterior and front surface mirrors on the inside which create the amazing and seemingly impossible spaces within.


These globes are now available in three colors: 
From Art of Play: BUY NOW 
Mezmoglobe Kinetic Object 

Mezmoglobe: precision machined kinetic desk toy with helical motion illusion. Give this metal sphere a spin and the imparted angular momentum (along with precision bearings) allows for sustained rotation. The spiral design converts rotational motion to translational motion, and imparts the illusion that fluid like ripples are traveling along the metal surface. Another intriguing design by Kristoph Krisjans.

Glow Trace Chaotic Pendulum Kit

Get this super nice, affordable, and fun to assemble kit here:
From KiwiCo: BUY NOW: Glow Pendulum Kit

Get amazing quatilty science kits delievered to your home- this glow pendulum is part of the Tinker Crate subscription. 
From KiwiCo: LEARN MORE: Tinker Crate Subscription

Glow Trace Chaotic Pendulum: this fun and DIY kit features a UV diode to trace the intricate path of this double pendulum system on to a phosphorescent screen, revealing the physics of chaotic motion. It’s amazing that such complex motion can arise from a simple assembly of two pendulums, one attached to the end of the other. Chaotic motion, such as that observed here, is characterized by extreme sensitivity to initial starting conditions, tiny differences in how the system is released leads to dramatically different outcomes each time. 


Single Tube Nixie Clock

This single tube version is an affordable alternative to showcase the vintage aesthetic of the Nixie neon glow:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Single Tube Nixie Clock Base (buy the tube in the next link)
From eBay: BUY NOW: IN14 Nixie Tube

Get the diffraction grating here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Diffraction Grating 

Get a beautifully made full four digit clock here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Nixie Tube Clocks 

Single Tube Nixie Clock: This minimalist clock uses a standard 5V USB connection and modern electronics to power a single Russian made ИH-14A Nixie tube- here the display shows the time 12:36 flashed in sequence. Long before there were 7 segment LED displays there was the Nixie- cold cathode tubes with a wire mesh and 10 cathodes shaped in the form of numerals 0-9 that illuminate through neon glow discharge at 170Volts. A diffraction grating reveals the brightest emission lines of the neon spectrum including: violet, green, bright yellow, and a bunch of orange/red lines characteristic of this noble has. The “Numeric Indicator eXperimental 1” or NIX 1 was introduced in 1955 by Burroughs Corporation and manufactured until the 1990s.

Scale Saturn with Ring System and Earth

Made by Jay Fisher and available here! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Saturn 
Buy the whole Solar System! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Scale Model Solar System 

Saturn with Ring System and Earth: 3D printed accurate scale model of the Earth (diameter = 0.80 cm) and Saturn (diameter = 7.6 cm). The ring system is color printed on transparency film- note that the inner ring edge to the outermost ring measures 73000 kilometers and could fit almost 7 Earths side by side. The rings around the actual planet are very thin, about 1 kilometer thick, so the transparency film is 250 times too thick to be to scale, and even just the thin 0.010 mm ink layer on the film is 20 times thicker that the actual rings would be at this scale! Made by artist/maker Jay Fisher using images from NASA.

Satisfying Hexagons

Get this 3D print here (your choice of colors):

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Satifying Hexagons

Satisfying Hexagons: this delightful kinetic art manipulation toy features 19 nested hexagons within a hexagonal frame. Embedded magnets allows one to move the central hexagon from behind creating interesting visual effects. A 3D print created by indeed oddly satisfying!