Recent Posts

Arch Balance Toy

Get this elegant toy here:

From Ludu Ludi in Spain: Nivana Balance Toy

Arch Balance Toy: this elegant sculpture toy seemingly defies gravity- a careful placement of the pendulum will locate the center of mass of the arch + pendulum system directly above the 1cm wide foot of the arch, creating a state of unstable equilibrium. No magnets used or needed for this physics! Hang and balance your favorite object from this arch. Made in Spain by Pico Pao, the Nirvana balance toy come with an old fashioned throwing top as the pendulum bob.

STORY Clock

This very high-tech clock is also high end (more expensive than most items I feature), with excellent craftmaship and technology that is clearly hard to replicate so that it is only made by, and available from, the FLYTE team:

From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Story Clock

From FLYTE: BUY NOW: US & Global Sales Story Clock or in EU Story Clock

STORY Clock: a spherical magnet hovers one centimeter from the face of this amazing clock and orbits in a circle to indicate the time- for this video I selected an orbit period of 40 seconds to show off the motion. The orbit of the magnetic ball can be set to any period but also has default selectable presets to indicate the current hour, minute, or second. This kind of levitation uses a control system with adjustable electromagnet coils in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allow for fine tuning of a magnetic field to precisely balance the pull of gravity. Amazing magnetic levitation physics demonstrated by clever engineering by the @flyte.se team, this clock will work lying flat or hung on a wall vertically!

Eclipse

Click here to visit this amazing Etsy shop Element83 
Get a magnetic levitation sculpture here: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Sculptures 

Eclipse: A diamagnetic levitation sculpture by Element83. Cast from diamagnetic Bismuth, a golden spherical neodymium magnet levitates trapped in a tunnel within the metal. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the sphere magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a powerful cube neodymium magnet sits above the tunnel and is adjusted to help lift the sphere magnet against gravity. Trapped in equilibrium by these fields, any other magnet brought near will change the balance. ?Another amazing creation by Ernie McElhannon. 

 


WindGyro

Get one here!

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: WindGyro

WindGyro: Spin this top up with a puff of air! Small magnets keep the top secured to the base so that a stream of air will induce rotation as the air flows through the engineered turbine blades of the elegant spiral structure. 

In-Feed Google

Skydisc 360° Photopolymer Hologram

These vintage holograms are available on eBay-- Batman, Superman, and others: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Skydisc Animated Hologram 

360° Photopolymer Reflective Hologram: one of my favorite pieces of holography- Batman from the Saga of the Dark Knight card series 1994. Incredible 3D image by Skybox International- rotate the disk to reveal an animated 360 degree view. Unlike photographs, holograms are recordings of the interference pattern of light waves. This interference pattern can encode moving 3D images which are then reanimated by illumination with a point source of light and viewing from an appropriate angle. Looks even more stunning in person!


Mini Double Pendulum

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.

1 Light-Nanosecond Ruler

Currently this ruler is comes to you (in box XIII) free with any subscription: 

From the Vsauce team: BUY NOW: The Curiosity Box

The Curiosity Box is an excellent way to start your own physics toy collection- reccomended highly! 

1 Light-Nanosecond Ruler: the speed of light is a universal physical constant and the basis of this ruler, made 29.98cm in length and equal to the distance light travels in one billionth of a second. This amazing ruler, marked off in increments of 10 light-picoseconds, was created by Michael Stevens and came to me in @thecuriositybox by Vsauce last month. The photons of light from the “Inq the Octopus” enamel pin take approximately 1 nanosecond to reach the sensors in my digital camera, or 1.4 nanoseconds if we look through the acrylic of the ruler, since acrylic has a refractive index of n=1.4. Air has a refractive index of 1.00029 so technically it takes 1.00029 nanoseconds for light to traverse this distance if we are not using our ruler in a vacuum. The five other edges of this ruler are marked with the folowing scales: cm, decimal inches, sound microseconds, micro-Mt.Everests, and beard-fortnights.

Pocket Scintillator Kinetic Art

Logan sometimes has items for sale here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: PocketScintillators

Pocket Scintillator Card: three sheets of seemingly random arrays of translucent colored pixels produce words and images when stacked- shift the stack of sheets and a second images appears! Innovative kinetic optical art by inventor, artist, software developer Logan Kerby @thanksplease who kindly sent me these cards encoded with @physicsfun themes.


The Physics of Tippe-Top Inversion

Get some tippe-tops here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops 

The Physics of Tippe-Top Inversion: spinning things often have surprising physics! This video is from a segment of my talk I’ll be presenting tomorrow at PhysicsCon 2020 (Caltech’s Feynman Lecture Hall, Jan 4) where I will talk about flip over tops and other physics toys. In brief: friction with the surface provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position. Inversion phase shown at 240fps- note the little hop the top takes as it goes on to its stem! 

Nixie Tube Clock

The Nixie Tube Clock in the video is of amazing craftsmanship- real hardwood with brass accents and solid construction. Get one from this excellent shop: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW 
Nixie Tube Clocks 

Nixie Tube Clock: 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. The “Numeric Indicator eXperimental 1” or NIX 1 was introduced in 1955 by Burroughs Corporation and manufactured until the 1990s. This clock uses modern electronics to power Russian versions called the ИH-19A where the numbers are stacked so the front symbols obscure each lighted cathode minimally: from back to front 1320984756. 

Skew Dice

Available here! 
From STEMcell Science: BUY NOW Skew Dice

Skew Dice: these unusually shaped dice are completely fair- roll them and the probability of outcomes are identical to a standard set of dice! The odd shapes are a special type of polyhedra called asymmetric trigonal trapezohedra which come in right and left handed versions- this set has one of each (mirror images of each other). What allows this shape to be fair like a cube has to do with the property of being isohedral, where each face of an object will map onto all other faces via a symmetry of the object. Manufactured by The Dice Lab. 


Tesla Coil

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 Amazon: 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. 

Micro Racer in a Glass

These micro racer cars are sold under many brand names, and most come with a clear sphere to demonstrate this centipetal accelration phyenomenon. 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Micro Racer + Sphere

Micro Racer in a Glass: This tiny battery powered car overcomes gravity through centripetal acceleration and slight friction with the glass surface. With sufficient velocity the surface normal force supplies the centripetal acceleration. The car’s battery last for many minutes and is USB rechargeable.

The Square Wave

KickStarter campaign from Ivan Black in collaboration with Italian manufacture house Atellani. 
From Art of Play: Order NOW Square Wave 

The Square Wave: interactive kinetic sculpture of 24 interlocking right angle metal rods from the mind of artist Ivan Black @ivanblacksculpture. With a snap of the wrist the resulting wave will propagate, folding the structure into a tight curl- and a reverse snap brings it back to the initial state. The main design 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. 


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. 

Induced Current Spin-Up

This great little lab stirrer (which I modified to have a transparent top) can be used in many investigations and demonstrations: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Stirrer 

Inexpensive concave lenses make great spinning platforms- get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Concave Lens Spin Station 

Get a PhiTOP in aluminum here (will work nicely in this demo):
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhiTOP 
From Amazon: BUY NOW PhiTOP

Induced Current Spin-Up: Spinning magnets from the magnetic stirrer induce electric currents to flow in the brass PhiTOP- these currents then create their own magnetic field which opposes the magnets underneath and pushes the PhiTOP to spin. Credit to astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, the creator of the PhiTOP and this unique means of using Lenz’s Law to spin it up. This top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. The concave lens keeps the top from wandering off of magnetic stirrer. 

Rhombic Blocks Mathematical Puzzle

This beautifully made puzzle available here:: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW 
Rhombic Blocks 

Rhombic Blocks Mathematical Puzzle: There are 9 possible ways three rhombuses can be joined together along a common edge, and similar to pentominoes, these 9 tri-rhombs can tile a polyhedron, in this case a hexagon. There are 14 solutions to this puzzle, and one where no same-colored pieces touch. A beautiful math discovery by puzzle master Stuart Coffin.