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Element 10: Neon 

Luciteria (highly recommended) sells this cube and 80 other elements in many formats- start your collection today! 

From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Lucite Cube Element 10 Neon

Need a mini Tesla Coil? Click here for details: Mini Tesla Coil 

Element 10, Neon: a pure sample of the famous noble gas in a glass ampule encased within a lucite cube. But how can we know that the glass tube is actually filled with neon gas? If the sample is brought near the 50,000 Volt high frequency electric field of a miniature Tesla coil, the gas will glow with the characteristic orange light from the electron energy transitions specific only to neon. Note that the glow deceases as the sample is moved away from the coil in proportion to the electric field intensity- and that there is an excitation threshold, the gas needs a higher intensity (closer to coil) to initiate the glow discharge but will still glow when moved further away. 

Butterfly Mendocino Motor

Get this elegant motor here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Butterfly Medocino Motor

Butterfly Mendocino Motor: the simplest (and very elegant) version of this motor with only two photovoltaic cells mounted with care to ensure precision balance. This motor will spin quietly to high RPMs on any sunlit windowsill. In this model made by Semyon Nazarov of SolarWindRU, each of the two photovoltaic solar cells is connected to a coil of copper wire under the opposing solar cell. When the rotor is lit from above the top solar cell provides electric current to the coil in the bottom position which becomes a temporary electromagnet that pushes against the permanent magnet in the base propelling the rotor to rotate. As the rotor turns, the coil that moves into the bottom position is likewise energized by the solar cell currently at the top- one can say the light commutates this motor. 2D magnetic levitation is provided by permanent magnets where an acrylic plate constrains the third dimension, and makes for a nice bearing surface for minimal friction. Invented in the 1960s by Daryl Chapin of Bell Labs and popularized by Larry Springs of Mendocino CA

Self-Propelled Homopolar Motor on Aluminum Foil Racetrack

I used neodymium disk magnets, small end = 1/2" diameter, Large end = 3/4" diameter. 
From eBay: BUY NOW Disk Magnets for Simple Motor 

Foil Runner Motor assembly diagram: 
Self-Propelled Homopolar Motor on Aluminum Foil Racetrack: A favorite DIY physics toy where disk shaped neodymium magnets supply the static magnetic field for this motor and become the wheels of a very simple vehicle with an AAA battery as the energy source. As soon as both ends make contact with the conducting aluminium foil an electric current will flow which in turn induces a magnetic field underneath the battery assembly. This induced field will then interact with the neodymium magnets on each end causing them to spin- a wonderful example of a motor with minimal components. The racetrack is a cardboard circle from a pizza box covered in kitchen foil.


The PhoTOP

Get a PhoTOP from these fine vendors (comes with laser pointer!):

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhoTOP 
From Vat19: BUY NOW: PhoTOP

Another amazing spinning device by Prof. Ken Brecher! Get his other spinning tops here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: PhiTOP, PiTOP, eTOP, iTOP, DeltaCELT

The PhoTOP: phosphorescent glow illuminates the intricate path of a 405nm laser pointer beam on a balanced spinning disk. Let the disk set alone for a few minutes to allow the traces to fade- and repeat again and again to experiment making new patterns.

Dodecahedron Infinity Mirror

This lamp is interesting, but the fabrication is low quality. Still, it is fun to see the internal reflections and it would make for a great party light. Definitely read the reviews before purchasing! ($30-$45 USD) 

From Amazon: Dodecahedron Infinty Lamp

Dodecahedron Infinity Lamp: lit from within by strips of LEDs the 12 plastic mirrored faces create a universe of interesting internal reflections. While the manufacturing quality of this item is pretty low, when the lights are off it looks pretty amazing.

 

Cherry Blossom Thermochromic Sake Cups

Similar cups available here- some change with hot water, some with cold:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Cherry Blossom Color Change Cup

Check out these other thermochomic physics toys

Cherry Blossom Sake Cups: ice cold liquid produces blue blossoms on the initially bare branch, but pour in a hot beverage and the branch fills with pink flowers! The designs at the bottom of these ceramic color-changing cups employ leuco dyes, thermochromic chemicals that have reversible forms, one colorless.


Half Seirpinski Octahedron Fractal

Get this amazing 3D print here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Seirpinski Pyramid

or print it yourself:
From Thingverse: Seirpinski Pyramid

Half Sierpinski Octahedron Fractal: this 3D printed math sculpture is one half of the sixth iteration of what is called “the octahedron flake” a 3D fractal based on the Sierpinski triangle. To make this fractal, on each iteration an inverted triangle is removed from the center of the previous triangle, and if this process is repeated indefinitely one gets the famous fractal. For this 3D print, the maker Travis Quesenberry used rainbow silk PLA to create the beautiful color gradient base on the .stl files by Rick Tu. Another example of math brought to life via 3D printing! 

 

In-Feed Google

Liquid Xenon Ampule

Available here:

From Luciteria Science: BUY NOW: Liquid Xenon Ampule

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 immersed in an ice water bath. 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).

 


Gauss Gun

Similar device available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Gauss Gun

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. 

Dudeney's Dissection

A nice wood version is available here: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Dudeney's Dissection 

Click here for other intresting versions of this puzzle

See both Wikipedia and Wolfram MathWorld for more details on the history and math of this geometrical oddity. 

Dudeney's Dissection: an equilateral triangle can be cut (dissected) into four pieces that will then assemble into a square. Interestingly the four parts are all different in shape (the green and yellow pieces are similar but not the same). This hinged model is comprised of precision machined and anodized aluminum, and can be folded back and forth between the two simplest regular polygons. It is not known if a similar three piece dissection is possible. Also called the haberdasher's problem and described in 1907 by Henry Dudeney it is the only 4 piece solution known.


Vortex by Lava Lamp

A DIY kit by the makers of Lava Lamp, home experimentation set with booklet of ideas to try:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Lava Lamp LED Vortex kit

From eBay: BUY NOW: Lava Lamp LED Vortex kit

Vortex Lamp: a simple whirlpool powered by a magnetic stirrer like those in a chemistry lab and lit by LEDs. A DIY kit by Lava Lamp brand- which comes with glitter and beads, but I found the water vortex alone was mesmerizing to watch. Note the intricately changing structure of the vortex in the slow motion close up. 

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!

The Orb Drop IV

A new KickStarter campaign from engineer and maker extraordinaire Rian Suiter. Rian has delivered on each all 11 (eleven!) of his creative physics toy related KickStarter campaigns to date. Check out his latest here: 
From KickStarter: Order NOW Orb Drop IV marble run track 

The Orb Drop IV: @orbdrop has created another fun DIY marble run- this one uses an Archimedean screw mechanism to bring the marbles continuously back to the top where they are launched along one of three paths- including a vortex funnel. Gravitational potential energy is transformed to the kinetic energy of the orbs as they loop and negotiate the banked turns of the snaking tracks. Three AA batteries and a small motor power the transport assembly. 


MetMo Cube 

The team at MetMo release these cubes for sale periodically:

From MetMo.co.uk: Inquire Here: MetMo Cube

MetMo Cube: art from precision metalworking technology- a wire EDM (electrical discharge machine) can cut out two ovals from a 0.5 kg cube of solid stainless steel, and leave a gap of less than 0.05mm around the cutouts! The EDM process, sometimes called spark machining, removes material from the work piece by a series of rapid current pulses, that when bathed in dielectric liquid creates electric arcs that “vaporize” a precise bit of metal with every pulse. A 3D printed base is mounted to the bottom to create a tight seal and connect the two chambers so air can transfer between allowing pneumatic manipulation, and the satisfying slow descent (video in real time). From machinist/artist Paegan Ward and the MetMo (Metal in Motion) team. 

Optical Glass Cube Sculpture 

Mr. Lustig's art is typically sold at art gallery pricing:
From Nellie Bly: BUY NOW: Lustig At Glass (Call the shop for availabilty of the small piece in the video)

See other optical sculptures here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Optical Light Sculptures

Optical Glass Cube Light Sculpture: multiple internal reflections create intricate and delicate patterns within this crystal glass cube with beveled prismatic edges and concave lens shaped indentations on three faces. The bottom three faces are coated with special metal oxide layers that create color through the physics of thin film interference. This is the smallest (4.0 cm on edge) cube featured by artist Harold Lustig, famous for his precision optical glass sculptures. 

Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator

Get this inexpensive version that makes big sparks!

from Engine DIY: BUY NOW: Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator

Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator: this device uses two counter rotating disks of metal pads to separate charge via induction. The repulsion felt by electrons as the triangle plates pass by each other pushes charge to flow across two conducting rods, one on each side, which allows the charge to stack up. This excess charge is then stored in old fashioned cylindrical capacitors (Leyden Jars) until the resulting 30,000+ Volts is achieved to jump the air gap. This device goes back to 1883- invented by James Wimshurst