Recent Posts

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.

Rheoscopic Planet 

Avalable in five colors! Get one here:

From Mr. Sci (Science Factory): Rheoscopic Planet

Rheoscopic Planet: this example of fluid flow kinetic art uses rheoscopic fluid encased in flexible bubble of plastic to reveal the intricate motion of turbulence. A suspension of tiny flat mica crystals tend to align themselves at the boundaries where the fluid is moving comparatively faster or slower, making the typically invisible flow patterns visible. Another unique science toy from @mrscisciencefactory


Lightning 2000 Plasma Lamp

This vintage device is often available on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Vintage Lightning Lamp 


A similar device is available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Blue Lightning Lamp

Lightning 2000 Plasma Lamp: low pressure noble gasses glow due to discharge from high voltage. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode dome and the outer glass dome which is coated with a thin transparent film of metal. Current flow through the thin gas produces the glowing zigzagged path like that of lightning but more rounded. Shown here in 480 fps slow motion. 

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! 

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. 


In-Feed Google 2

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.


10 Hex Puzzle

This and other beautiful and well made puzzles are available on Etsy: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW 10 Hex Puzzle 

Two great resources about these polyhexs: polyform puzzler page and puzzleworld page 

10 Hex Puzzle: this puzzle is comprised of pieces which are the set of all ways three and four hexagons can be joined with a common edge. There are 3 trihexs and 7 possible tetrahexs, and similar to pentominoes, these 10 polyhexs can assemble into a large hexagon. Amazingly there are exactly 12,290 solutions to this puzzle- but it’s still a challenge to find just one! 

Rolling Marble Sculpture

Roling ball sculptures by artist Bogdan Krupa often avaiable here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: BKArtAndCraft

See more (miniture) marble runs here: Marble Run Fun

olling Marble Sculpture: marbles perform gymnastics as potential energy of gravity is converted to kinetic energy. An elegantly designed auger conveyor, an Archimedes' Screw, brings the marbles back to the top (powered by an AA battery and a small motor). Conservation of angular momentum produces a simulation of decaying orbits as the marbles whirl down the the main funnel shaped feature. 

Mendocino Motor

Get one here: 

From engineDIY: BUY NOW Solar Levitating Motor (on all models here-remove brown protective film to reveal clear acrylic on rotor)

From Amazon: BUY NOW Solar Levitating Motor 

Mendocino Motor: each face of solar cell 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