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.
Get a Novatrope here:
From novatropes.com: BUY NOW: Novatropes
Novatrope: this electro-kinetic sculpture uses strobing LEDs to animate a fractal inspired spiral geometry- similar to a 3D zoetrope. The shape and motion perceived by the eye depends on the ratio of the spin rate and frequency of the strobing light (adjusted with the silver knob). Each Novatrope comes with multiple 3D printed translucent sculptures each based on phyllotactic spirals such as the well known Fibonacci curve. A wonderful new type of kinetic art infused with math, physics, and psychophysics by Brandon Keeber and his design team.
Currently this mirror and image set comes to you (in the Summer 2020 box) 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!
For those who want to see the math behind this art, here is an initial paper on the topic published in 2000 in the American Journal of Physics: Anamorphic Images by Hunt et al.
Vsauce Mirror Anamorphosis: the warped printed image is restored only with a mirror in the form of cylinder- when placed carefully in the center of the image, Kevin, Michael, and Jake appear in their true form. This mirror (along with a set of images and DIY templates) came to me last week in the most recent @thecuriositybox- a fantastic way to start your own physics toy collection. The math describing this anamorphic mapping is quite complex and is nicely detailed in a physics journal article from 2000.
Click here for affordable, precision made scopes with angled mirrors: Kaleidoscope Symmetries Explored
See more kaleidoscopes in my collection: Kaleidoscopes
Polarized Light Cell Kaleidoscope: the amazing colors you see from the object cell of this 3 mirror kaleidoscope are generated by manipulating the polarization of light- the object in the clear wand is a strip of clear cellophane in oil which has the property of optical rotation. These property allows for an incredible range of color formation when placed between two linear polarization filters (swipe for demonstration). A creation of kaleidoscope artist Ron Kuhns.
Contact Davide here to obtain one of his amazing sculptures:
From impossiblemaker.ch: BUY NOW: Impossible Objects
Click here to see other items in my collection of Impossible Objects
Impossible Bottle with Corkscrew: this beautiful work of art by @dp.fumagalli was created with clever engineering and expert craftwork. I love everything about this sculpture- from the inverted corkscrew theme to the shape of the bottle- and the artist’s delightful logo (an optical illusion- swipe for details). The puzzle aspect is to consider how the bottle was produced (I personally have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist). I can tell you with high certainty that the bottle was never cut or altered in anyway, and everything in the bottle, somehow, went through its narrow neck. With special thanks to Davide Fumagalli (aka the Impossible Maker) for this wonderful addition to my collection.
Get these 99.9% pure element Bi 83 cubes here:
From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Bismuth Element Cube
Many combinations of strong neodymium magnets will work, here are the versions I used:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Cylindrical Neodymium Magnet
From eBay: BUY NOW: Tiny Neodymium Cube Magnets
See my video of other pure element cubes by Luciteria Science
Bismuth Diamagnetic Levitation: Element 83 (bismuth) is the most diamagnetic of the elements*. Here a small neodymium magnet is made to float between two 99% pure bismuth 10mm cubes which are held in precise configuration by friction with the parallel walls of the acrylic assembly I made. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the tiny cube magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a powerful cylindrical neodymium magnet sits above the cubes and is adjusted to help lift the tiny cube magnet against gravity. *except for a special form of carbon known as pyrolytic graphite.
Available for all the planets and several versions of Earth:
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Mova Globes: all types
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Mova Globes: 1790 Terrestrial
From eBay: BUY NOW
Mova Globes: all types
Octopus Stand (in stock now!) available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW
OctoStand in Metal
1790 Terrestrial Globe by Mova: rotating counterweighted globe sealed within a clear liquid filled acrylic sphere. The rotation in a Mova globe is powered by light that shines through the semi-transparent map image on to solar cells within the globe which drive a motor. But what does the motor push against to maintain the rotation? Believe it or not it uses magnets to push against the Earth's magnetic field like a compass needle. Wonderful physics of all kinds in the design of this clever device. The featured map is a faithful recreation of a globe famous for its accuracy at the time by Giovanni María Cassini and highlights the voyages of James Cook.
Available in many styles and colors:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Sand Pendulum
From eBay: BUY NOW Sand Pendulum
Dual Axis Sand Pendulum: the kinetic energy trades back and forth between swinging toward the support arm and then swinging perpendicular to that path tracing Lissajous figures in the sand. The sand slowly dissipates the energy and the traced figures get smaller so the next one fits inside the last. Coupled oscillations like this can occur when multiple modes of motion (degrees of freedom) are available to the system.
These mathematical art objects are created by Henry Segerman and available here:
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Mathematical Art
Wikipedia has a nice introduction to the math and applications of stereographic projection.
Shadow Stereographic Projection: 3D printed sculptures that cast geometric shadows. When illuminated by a point source of light (placed at the top pole of the sphere) the shadow cast by the rays of light represent a one to one mapping of the points on the sphere to points on the plane- creating a square grid, and a honeycomb of regular hexagons. Stereographic projection is often used in representing the geography of the globe of our planet on to a flat map. Mathematical art by Henry Segerman.
These laser cut hardwood geckos are available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Tessellating Geckos
Tessellating Geckos: MC Escher inspired lizard cutouts interlock precisely to tile a surface with no overlaps or gaps. Laser cut from maple, walnut, and cherry wood by maker/artist Craig Caesar and inspired by MC Escher’s “Study of Regular Division of a Plane with Reptiles” 1939. G4G week: Martin Gardner wrote about the art and math of Escher in 1961- which helped create the popularity that his work has experienced ever since.
Get one here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Pop-Pop Boat
From Amazon: BUY NOW Pop-Pop Boats
Wikipedia has the details on the physics and history of this little steamboat toy
Pop-Pop Boat: birthday candle powered, super simple steam engine named after the sound it makes when operating. The engine is just a metal box, heated by the candle, with two pipes coming out of it. Steam builds up pushing water out with an explosive pop- which then creates a vacuum sucking more water in to repeat the process. Patented in 1915 these were very popular in the 1940's.
Amazingly this motor is available for less than $10 US.
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Brushless Motor/Generator with LED
Electric Motor/Generator: this inexpensive and common motor can also serve as a generator of AC electricity- here lightning an LED when the shaft of the rotor is spun by hand. Most electrical energy we use today is produced by moving a magnet near a coil of wire (known as Faraday’s law of induction) to produce an electric current. Removing the permanent magnet casing reveals this design to use 9 separate copper windings. I made a transparent second rotor with six neodymium magnets- and when these magnets are made to move near the windings the LED again lights with the flow of current. Swipe to see the beautiful magnetic field pattern of the rotor design using magneview film.
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
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.
Vintage Whee-Lo toys on eBay- play with a piece of history!
From eBay: BUY NOW Vintage Whee-Lo
Many modern versions available- many light up!
From Amazon: BUY NOW Rail Twirler Magnet Wheel
Whee-Lo: the original version of this toy from the '60s- physics of: angular momentum, magnets, rotational and translational kinetic energy, phase locking, it's all there. Who else had one of these?
The vintage boat featured was made in the 1960s and is hard to find.
Wikipedia has the details on the Marangoni Effect
The design of this toy boat is desceibed in this 1955 Patent
See more physics toys involving fluid flow
Marangoni Propulsion Boat: this vintage toy boat is propelled by a difference in surface tension between water and isopropyl alcohol (contents of brown bottle). This very light weight aluminum boat has a basin where alcohol is added to a cotton string- the string feeds through a hole to a notch in the rear of the boat and wicking action draws the alcohol down to the water surface. Fluids will flow away from regions of lower surface tension (Marangoni Effect) and the isopropyl alcohol mixes with the water at the stern of the boat creating a gradient of surface tension which pushes the boat forward until the alcohol is drained from the boat. I was lucky to find this vintage boat, made in London with a patent date of 1955!
This set available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Uphill Roller Double Cone
Uphill Roller: a double cone (like two funnels connect by their tops) will roll up a set of inclined rails. Although the bi-cone rolls toward the higher end, its center of mass descends due to the geometry of the rails. This curious construction was first published in 1694 by the noted surveyor William Leybourn to promote “recreation of diverse kinds” towards the “sublime sciences”. Physics fun from three centuries ago!
The set I used for this video is called Pocket Katamino and is available here
From Amazon: BUY NOW Pentominoes
3D Pentominoes: the 12 possible arrangements of five identical squares, joined edge to edge, form the set of all pentominoes. Since 12x5=60, the pentominoes can tile a 6 x 10 rectangle with no gaps (2339 ways to do this- yet even finding one solution is a challenge). This set of colorful pentominoes is made so that the height of each piece is the same as the width of the constituent squares, such that 3D constructions can be made. Since 3x4x5=60 one can build a box with these dimensions (amazingly, 3940 ways to do this- but again, finding one is still a fun challenge).
These are very hard to find- I had to make this one. Contact @physicsfun via DM if you really want one.
Many other types of impossible objects are avialable- see these links and videos: Impossible Objects
Impossible Pipe Elbows: made from standard pipe fittings held together only by their threads. No glue of any kind was used in its making. Design inspired by puzzle maker and artist Saul Bobroff.