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Pyramidion Kaleidosphere Kaleidoscope

Get this affordable and amazing Kaleidoscope here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Pyramidion Kaleidosphere

See other Kaleidoscopes in my collection

Pyramidion Kaleidosphere: a precision made (and affordable) acrylic kaleidoscope of 3 tapered mirrors which creates reflections that appear as a 3D curved surface, and with clear gaps in each side that appear upon reflection as a geodesic cage that surrounds the central image. Shining a light through these clear gaps (and the end sphere) creates the brilliant blue flashes and intricate patterns of light. Designed by artist Nick Moore and produced with extremely clean lines by The kaleidoscope itself was invented by the famous Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), and kaleidoscope innovation is still an evolving art form. 


Raketti Puzzle

Versions of this puzzle avaioable fron these sources: 
From CuriosityBox: BUY NOW Raketti Physics Brain Teaser
From Etsy: BUY NOW Raketti Physics Puzzle 

Raketti Puzzle: a favorite physics brain teaser in my collection- the challenge is to remove the cone topped cylinder from the hole without touching the bottom container (no fair using sticky tape). It can be done in a matter of seconds! The solution to this puzzle (like others featured here) relies on some fun physics principles. 

Magic Portal Illusion 

Get one, expertly printed and assembled, here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Magic Portal Illusion Desk Toy

Or print it yourself: 3D Print Files: Magic Portal Desk Toy

Magic Portal Illusion: this astonishing design utilizes the famous barber pole illusion to make it appear as though these colorful strands are passing in and out of a 4th dimension. The mechanical principle employed is similar to that of a lead screw and slider type actuator, except here translating the slider up and down rotates the helical strands at just the right rate to produce the illusion. An amazing 3D print creation of Ada Cohen, printed and assembled by Alex L. Kling. 

Handheld Tesla Coil

Get this spark generator here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Handheld Tesla Coil

See other inexpensive tesla coils in my collection

Handheld Tesla Coil: each pull of the trigger discharges a large capacitor (seen through the clear window) with a loud pop and a tiny lightning bolt then streaks from the tip. In this variation of the famous air core double-tuned resonate transformer invented by Nikola Tesla in 1891, the 10 cm long sparks are made possible by a very high voltage, but are made fairly safe due to a very low current (mA)- the discharge feels like a light sting (but don’t touch the electrode- it gets hot). This battery powered version is friendly for demonstrations, such as exciting an ampule of neon gas to glow brightly during the high voltages discharges (swipe to view in slow motion). 

Tesla's Egg of Columbus

Get this amazing (and affordable) reproduction here:
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Tesla's Egg of Columbus
This version comes with a 35mm solid aluminum sphere. 

Get the aluminum phiTOP "egg"  here: BUY NOW phiTOP 

Tesla’s Egg of Columbus: an aluminum ellipsoid egg (PhiTOP) mysteriously spins and stands upright in this modern version of Tesla’s famous demonstration from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago that first showcased the principles behind wireless power transfer and his AC induction motor. The base has no moving parts- instead special copper windings (very similar to Tesla’s original design) form four electromagnet coils on a circular steel core, and a special circuit supplies each with AC currents in such a way that a rotating magnetic field is created. This rotating magnetic field from the coils under the concave glass induces electric eddy currents to flow in the aluminum ellipsoid- these currents then create their own magnetic field which oppose the initial fields underneath and pushes the ellipsoid to spin. Finally, the ellipsoid top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. 



Square Wave Horizon

Get this amazing sculpture here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Square Wave Horizon

See also: The Square Wave (Original)

Square Wave Horizon: a second incarnation of Ivan Black’s Square Wave interactive kinetic sculpture- in this version 20 interlocking right angle metal rods are mounted horizontally with accompanying base and grips at each end which allows one to rotate the structure to and fro. Waves propagate, folding the structure into a tight curl- and a reverse snap will bring it back to the initial flat square state. An important design feature is that each right angle rod is limited to move through about 45 degrees, and all through parallel axes, allowing for the beautiful rotational wave motion via a cascade of angular momentum transfer. 

Gravimorph Kinetic Art

The kinetic art of Kazunari Higuchi is available from these sources:

From Nozaki Limited: BUY NOW: Gravimorph KInietics  (fine art versions)

From NERIO: BUY NOW: Wooden Kinetic Sculptures (produced on demand)

Check out this video of a short tour of a recent gallery exhibit to see the whimsical and unexpected motion displayed in his art. 

Gravimorph Spindle: an example of the subtle yet intricate kinetic art of Kazunari Higuchi whose work always features unintuitive motion of uniquely shaped objects coupled with an intriguing audio experience- and powered only by the transformation of gravitational potential energy to the kinetic energy of motion. 

Iron Filing Field Detector

This device and similar ones available here: 

From Amazon: 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.

Rheoscopic Fluid Flow Toy

Get this toy (and two variations) here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: GooToobz Fluid Flow toy

Rheoscopic Fluid Flow Toy: this simple toy reveals the complexity of turbulent fluid flow as liquid travels between chambers through a series of bends. Compressing both chambers with equal pressure can temporarily halt the flow and show the lingering turbulence induced by the acceleration of the viscous fluid around the u-turn bends. Tiny flakes of mica are suspended in the fluid and these platelets reflect light only when the fluid motion brings them into a certain orientation. Oddly satisfying to the extreme. 

Liquid Xenon Ampule

Available here:

From Luciteria Science: BUY NOW: Liquid Xenon Ampule (make sure to select "Supercrtical" type)

Liquid Xenon Rapid Phase Change: this small sealed vial contains pure xenon gas at very high pressure- 65 atmospheres! When cooled to 16C (61F) the xenon gas undergoes a rapid phase change to liquid as seen here when the ampule is put in contact with the tip of an icicle. The video is shown in real time and the liquid xenon returns to gas within a few seconds and the process can be repeated indefinitely. The vial is made of fused quartz and kept small (3cm long) to be able to contain the high pressure environment which allows for such a high condensation temp (usually much colder at -108C).


Perpetual Motion Simulator Marble Machine

Available here (in limited supply):

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Perpetual Marble Machine (reccomended seller)

Note: poorly designed knock-offs are being sold widely that are not at all the same device. If the price is less that $150 USD then it is not the same quality device and mechanism as shown here. 

Perpetual Motion Simulator: this marble machine device does not break any laws of thermodynamics- but it sure looks like it! When I first saw videos of this piece of kinetic art I thought the effect was due to video editing, but in fact the base contains a power source and very clever mechanism (swipe twice for clue/partial reveal). An amazing piece of art by William Le expertly crafted from stainless steel wire, doussie hardwood, and undisclosed internal components.

Oil Drop Timer

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Drop Timer 

Oil Drop Timer: immiscible liquids (typically, colored oils in kerosine) in two connected containers with interesting semi-translucent white and opaque black oils in this variation on the bubble timer theme. The oil in each container falls through a small drop forming hole in between clear walls of acrylic- note how surface tension forms the drops into nearly perfect circles and regulates the size of the drop formation. In addition the drops fall at terminal velocity with smaller drops falling faster than larger ones. One of my favorite inexpensive physics toys. 

Mini Acoustic Levitator

Get this inexpensive device here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Acoustic Levitator

Mini Acoustic Levitator: small pieces of styrofoam become trapped between areas of higher pressure induced by high frequency sound waves. Ultrasonic transducers placed at the top and bottom are basically speakers that emit sound waves at a frequency of 43,000 Hz, which corresponds to a wavelength of 8mm for dry air. If the transducers are positioned just right standing waves are produce with nodes of low pressure at half wavelength intervals- and low mass objects like these foam pellets will be suspended against gravity when placed near one of these nodes. Here we see a stack of three pellets with a spacing of about 4mm which is the expected distribution of the nodes. To place the pellets into the sound stream without disrupting the standing waves this device comes with a small screen with a handle which allows the sound waves to flow through the holes in the mesh and trap piece of foam. Although the device uses sound it appears silent as the frequency used is way above that which humans can hear (20Hz to 20kHz).


Bisected Tetrahedron

Available here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Bisected Tetrahedron

Print your own with these files: Five Screw Puzzles

See the related Tirsected Cube Puzzle

Bisected Tetrahedron Puzzle: two identically shaped pieces interlock to form the famous four faced platonic solid in this ingenious dissection puzzle. The tetrahedron is sliced following a helical path along the 2-fold symmetry axis (middle of one edge to its opposite), creating a smooth disassembly, and a smooth but mildly challenging reassembly. Fun math today from puzzle maker, artist, and mathematician George Hart. 


Reaction Rocket

The essence of a great physics toy: simple inexpensive design showing complex physics 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Reaction Rocket 

Reaction Rocket: projectile launch via momentum transfer in slow motion. The superball/straw base bounces off the table top and then immediately collides with the bottom of the rocket sending it off with a velocity slightly less than 3 times the velocity of the rising ball (true if the ball is more than three times the mass of the rocket). Newton's third law in action! Note that the rocket rises much higher than the drop height (up to 9 times higher).

Tenebrescence of Hackmanite

Get a sample here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Hackmanite Samples

You will also want a powerful UV flashlight:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: High Power UV Light

Tenebrescence: a property of the mineral hackmanite which temporarily changes color when exposed to UV light to a deep shade of violet- photochromism from a naturally occurring mineral! Similar physics to phosphorescence (glow in the dark) the purple color fades back to normal over about half an hour, and the mineral can be put into this excited state over and over again by the UV rays of the sun, or this high intensity UV flashlight. Also- hackmanite has a bright orange fluorescent glow under UV.

Impossible Braid 

Get this nice example of mystery braid here:

From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Impossible Braid Key Fob

Here is a great video on how to make the mystery braid

See other Impossible Objects in my collection. 

Mystery Braid: challenge- how can three strands be braided if both sets of ends are connected? (swipe for reveal) A new addition to my collection of “impossible objects”, this leather key fob is braided from a single piece of leather, constructed by making two parallel slits but not cutting the ends. The solution is well known to those in the field of leatherwork- due to a twist of topology it’s possible to make this braid if the number of left strand over right crossings equals the times the right strand crosses over the left. Four strands braided this way is not mathematically possible, but 3, 5, or any odd number can be done!



Candle Powered Lava Lamp

This model available here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Candle Powered Lava Lamp

Candle Powered Lava Lamp: a tea-light candle provides the illumination and the heat source in this newest incarnation of the famous lamp. The base and cap are glazed ceramic and it takes about one hour for the fluid motion to begin. The Lava Lamp is a kinetic art form 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. Manufactured by Mathmos and invented in 1963 by Edward Walker of Dorset, England.