Recent Posts

Magnetic Suspsension Sculpture

This DIY magneits sculpture can be assemebled with these parts.  Bring a magnet into a craft shop to find some necklace chain that is non-magnetic. 

From Amazon/eBay: BUY NOW: Quilting HoopNeodyumium Sphere Magnets

Magnetic Suspension Sculpture: two neodymium magnets on chains suspended by their mutual magnetic attraction in this prototype kinetic sculpture. These powerful magnets hold the chains taut with about a 2cm gap. Made from a quilting hoop where the magnets connect under their own force to steel nails soldered on to non-magnetic chain.

Simple Polariscope

This kit has everything needed to make your own polariscope: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Film Kit 
The kit also includes a birefringent crystal, colorful optically active mica sheets, and a polarimetry demo that reveals when structures are under stress. A great value for so much physics fun! 

Simple Polariscope: polarized light reveals the hidden rainbows due to internal stresses imposed on polymer materials such as these pieces of polystyrene flatware, a technique used to model stress distribution patterns in engineering. Place the polymer samples between two linear polarizer filters and the internal stresses created by the molding process during manufacturing produce colors through birefringence due to photoelasticity.

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb

Got this bulb at my local Target Store in the seasonal Halloween section. Similar bulbs available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Flicker Flame Skull Bulbs 

and these old fashion flicker bulbs look great with the diffration glasses:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Flicker Flame Neon Bulb 

The diffraction effect glasses used here is this kind: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Diffraction Glasses

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb: no flame but instead emission spectra from excited neon gas due to the presence of a discharge electric current. The breakdown voltage of a gas (the minimum voltage needed for a current to flow) depends on the pressure of the gas in the bulb. The flickering effect comes about because the current flow will increase the temperature near it, which raises the pressure and affects the breakdown voltage near the current- so the glow from one area can only last as long as it takes to heat up and raise the breakdown voltage which kills the current in that area. In other physics, a diffraction grating shows that neon only emits light in specific wavelengths- mostly reds and yellows at AC house voltages. ?


Scale Saturn with Ring System and Earth

Made by Jay Fisher and available here! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Saturn 
Buy the whole Solar System! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Scale Model Solar System 

Saturn with Ring System and Earth: 3D printed accurate scale model of the Earth (diameter = 0.80 cm) and Saturn (diameter = 7.6 cm). The ring system is color printed on transparency film- note that the inner ring edge to the outermost ring measures 73000 kilometers and could fit almost 7 Earths side by side. The rings around the actual planet are very thin, about 1 kilometer thick, so the transparency film is 250 times too thick to be to scale, and even just the thin 0.010 mm ink layer on the film is 20 times thicker that the actual rings would be at this scale! Made by artist/maker Jay Fisher using images from NASA.

Satisfying Hexagons

Get this 3D print here (your choice of colors):

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Satifying Hexagons

Satisfying Hexagons: this delightful kinetic art manipulation toy features 19 nested hexagons within a hexagonal frame. Embedded magnets allows one to move the central hexagon from behind creating interesting visual effects. A 3D print created by @i.am.the.lazy.engineer- indeed oddly satisfying!

The Holoscope: Icosahedron

Order a holoscope from the artist's gallery here: 
The artwork of Gary Allison: BUY NOW Holoscopeworld.com 

Look through other holoscopes in my collection here: Holoscope Kaleidoscopes

The Holoscope Icosahedron: the intricate beauty of multiple internal reflections from 20 triangular mirrors in the shape of this famous platonic solid. The interior is viewed from one corner and illuminated by light entering from glass spheres placed at all of the other 11 vertices. A type of kaleidoscope based on mirrored polyhedra by artist Gary Allison, (swipe to see the dodecahedron and cube) and future posts will include tetrahedron and octahedron holoscope forms as I complete my Platonic solids set. Each holoscope has stained glass on the exterior and front surface mirrors on the inside which create the amazing and seemingly impossible spaces within.


Strandbeest Mini

Get one here! Make sure to get the Jr. Scientist version of this kit for best results. 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Strandbeest Model Kit 

Read about Theo Jansen and his novel leg linkage mechanism for the Strandbeests via these Wiki pages. 

Strandbeest Mini: A fully working model of artist Theo Jansen's Strandbeest kinetic sculpture which features Jansen's linkage- a unique leg mechanism which converts rotary motion of a crackshaft into smooth walking motion. Jansen's creations are usually a couple meters high and walk the beaches of the Netherlands powered by the wind. This version comes as a model kit that snaps together with no glue- a really fun project!

Mirror Illusion Motion Bank

Sometimes available on eBay, and similar mirror illusion banks: 

From eBay: BUY NOW: Mirror Illusion Bank

Mirror Illusion Spacecraft Bank: Symmetry + Reflection = Illusion. Deposit a coin (which seems to vanish) and a spacecraft of some sort states to revolve within a silver ring seemingly suspended in space. The symmetry of the ring and craft allows a half of these objects to appear as a whole, and a AA battery powers a motor which drives gears to slowly spin the portion of the mirror inside the ring (with the spacecraft attached). The best version of the mirror illusion box I’ve seen.

 

The Square Wave

Own this scuplture by Ivan Black (made in collaboration with Italian manufacture house Atellani): 
From Art of Play: BUY NOW Square Wave 

The Square Wave: an interactive kinetic sculpture of 24 interlocking right angle metal rods from the mind of artist Ivan Black. 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. 


Kalliroscope with Heating Element Stand

Vintage (1970s) Kalliroscopes are sometimes available here: 
From eBay: Search NOW Kalliroscopes 

Click this link for the best Kalliroscope currently in production and available.

Kalliroscope with Heating Element Stand: visualizing the invisible- convection currents. This wonderful vintage device was invented and produced by artist Paul Matisse in the 1970s, where suspended microscopic flat crystals of guanine reflect light and allow visualization of the fluid's motion. This rheoscopic fluid is special in that the guanine crystals are the same density as the tetrachloroethylene liquid so the crystals never settle to the bottom making the fluid reactive to showing the slightest movement. Here the stand option (that was sold separately) has a resistive element in contact with the back of the kalliroscope which generates heat at about body temperature to establish these convection currents.

Frozen Lightning Lamp

Quality lightning figures are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Lightning Lichtenberg Sculpture

Frozen Lightning Lamp: a Lichtenberg fractal created by electron discharge from a charged acrylic insulator. A piece of nonconducting acrylic is filled with electrons using a linear accelerator and then discharged to ground with a flash and bang- the figure is the permanent result. Electrons typically will not flow through an insulator, but a high velocity beam of them from a linear accelerator allows the electrons to tunnel deep into the plastic and build up a very large charge slowly. Such a large charge can then create a high enough voltage to create a breakdown arc which is hot enough to leave the fractal pattern. This piece is part of the Captured Lightning Sculptures series by Stoneridge Engineering LLC. 

Tensegrity Table

Get this 3D printed/hand painted tensegrity art here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: LUNA Tensegrity Display Table

Tensegrity Table: A wonderful three string version of the suspension equilibrium table. The LUNA tensegrity stand is 3D printed and then painted by hand, with designer Anthony Yap incorporating a celestial moon phase motif to nice effect, and clear nylon fishing line for an almost invisible means of support. Another configuration related to the concept of tensegrity invented by Kenneth Snelson and made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949. 


Polarization Test Card

These inexpensive test cards are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Polarization Test Cards 


Get some polarizing filter sheets here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Polarizing Sheets 

Explore many aspects of polarization with this kit: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Filter Demo Kit 

See this short introduction to linear polarizing filters on Hyperphysics, and many more details on polarization from Wikipedia

Polarization Test Card: light has features that are invisible to the human eye, such as the orientation of its electric field (denoted as polarization), but can be revealed to us by a polarizing filter, used to block light with specific polarization orientations. Inexpensive test cards like this are often found in shops selling polarized sunglasses. The molecular structure of plastics can rotate the polarization of any light that passes through, and this card has such thin layers added to the top of the photo to create the hidden silhouettes seen here. 

 

Micro Hoverboard

If you want to make one of these you will need: 
1) some pyrolytic graphite (which can easily be sliced and carved): 
From eBay: BUY NOW Pyrolytic Graphite 
2) some neodymium magnets: the racetrack magnets are a bit pricey though! 
From eBay: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Kit
3) shrink and print this image on medium weight paper, 
and 4) cut and assemble! 

Micro-Hoverboard: diamagnetic levitation technology- although Marty McFly would have to be three inches tall to ride this hoverboard. Made from printed paper and pyrolytic graphite with concentric circular neodymium magnet array. The magnetic rings alternate between north and south magnetic poles in just the right way to trap this special type of graphite. Pyrolytic graphite has strong diamagnetic properties such that it develops an opposite (but weak)magnetic field when in the presence of a magnetic field from another source. Swipe to see the graphite pieces levitating individually.

Ferromagnetic Elements

10mm cubes of 99.9% pure elemets available here: 

From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Pure Element Cube Samples

These cubes include a laser etching of the symbol and element name on each. 

The main 4 ferromagnetic elements are: Fe, Co, Ni, and Gd. 

Ferromagnetic Elements: which metals from the periodic table experience strong attraction towards a magnet? Here are seven samples- 1 cm cubes of 99% pure elements: Ti (titanium), Fe (iron), Co (cobalt), Ni (nickel), Cu (copper), Gd (gadolinium), and W (tungsten)- which of these metals are ferromagnetic? Swipe once to check your answer, swipe twice to see how some are more strongly ferromagnetic than others. Although magnets are familiar objects, the physics of ferromagnetism is very complex and is described by the quantum mechanics of intrinsic particle spin and the specific electron configurations of solids and molecules.


Magswitch

The smallest Magswitch in this product line, yet it can lift 17 lbs! The Magjig 60: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Magswitch 60 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magswitch 60 

Magswitch: switchable permanent magnet- a twist of a knob turns on a magnetic field strong enough to lift this 5.2 kilogram (11 pound) chunk of railroad rail. Magnetic fields, when combined, can be either additive or subtractive. This Magswitch model, the Magjig 60, works by aligning and counter-aligning two strong neodymium dipole magnets within a field channeling ferromagnetic casing.

Vintage Wilesco Steam Engine

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Wilesco Model Steam Engines 

Wikipedia has a very nice description of the history and inner workings of steam engines 

Vintage Wilesco Steam Engine: a working model reciprocating piston steam engine complete with boiler, flywheel, governor, and whistle. The invention that powered the industrial revolution on a desktop! My father bought this model D16 in 1970- with just a little cleaning and oiling it fired right up. Wilesco has been producing model steam engines since 1960 and still manufactures and sells the D16.