Recent Posts

Impossible Nail

A nice version is curretnly available from this Etsy craft store:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Impossible Nail

Impossible Nail: An eighteen-penny nail driven through the inner notches of a solid piece of wood. The wood was notched and the nail added- no glue used or cuts made, and the nail is solid and in one piece. Not impossible, but creating this does depend on the use of some amazing physical properties of wood. I won’t reveal the method here but a quick search on YouTube produces a few how-to videos showing the process. 

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. 

Super Absorbent Polymer

Get some of these grow-spheres here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Growing Spheres 

Super Absorbent Polymer: poly-acrylamide polymer crystals are able to absorb up to 200 times their volume of water. Here seven small spheres, approximately 4mm in diameter, were immersed in water for three hours, after which they were slightly more than 23mm across. The final gel sphere is more than 99.5% water- and they bounce! 


Caustic Projections from 3D Printed Optics

The optical element used in the video is an industry sample from Luximprint, a company that developed the 3D additive optical printing techniqe. Samples are available from thier shop: 
From luximprint.com: 3D-Printed Optics Sample 

Green laser pointers available for under $20: 
From eBay: BUY NOW green laser pointer 

Wikipedia has a nice discussion of the optical phenomena of caustics

Caustic Projections from 3D Printed Optics: the intricate geometries of light due to refraction through various curved surfaces of transparent plastic. A 520 nm green laser pointer is refracted trough a sample optical element with surface features of triangle and square pyramids and convex lens elements- made to exhibit examples of additive optics fabrication for lighting applications. When light rays refract through a curved surface they concentrate into bright patches called caustics, often with cusp singularities (sharp points) and intricate threads of shadow.

The Planets of Our Solar System to Scale

Made by Jay Fisher- Buy the Solar System! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Scale Model Solar System 

The Planets of Our Solar System to Scale: 3D printed accurate scale model of 8 planets and Earth’s moon. In this model: Earth (diameter = 0.80 cm) and Jupiter (diameter = 9.0 cm). Wonderful detail allowed by the 3D printing process reproduces the belting on the gas giants. The rings of Saturn are printed on transparency film. Made by artist/maker Jay Fisher using images from NASA. 

Micro Mirror Interactive Art Memo Pad

My freind Tim Rowett over at Grand Illusions Ltd. has this item in stock:

From Grand Illusions Ltd: BUY NOW: Love/Hate Micro Mirror Art
Also availble in South Korea: BUY NOW: Love/Hate Micro Mirror Art

Micro Mirror Interactive Art: mirrors as pixels- the "love/hate" memo pad by Luycho. The displayed message is the product of 1280 tiny square mirrors (dimensions 2.0 x 2.5 mm), where each mirror is angled to reflect a specific part of the memo pad below. Alter the distribution of colors on the pad and the message on pixel array can change between the two options.


Magnetic Cube

Many colors to choose from: 
From MagneticCube.com: BUY NOW Magnetic Dice Cube 

See also the original indestructibles post: Magnetic Acrylic Rubik's Cube 

Magnetic Cube: a twisty Rubik’s Cube puzzle made from 27 dice and 108 neodymium magnets. This cube includes the scrambled states and solutions of the original 3x3 Rubik’s Cube but is held together only by magnets! The magnets, in this special configuration, lock the dice together with a satisfying click upon rotation. This beautiful cube was produced by Owen Lillywhite of magneticcube.com and is based on a gfixler design posted on instructables.

MaBoRun Mini

Many styles to choose from- get a MaBoRun here: 

From eBay: BUY NOW: MaBoRun Mini

Similar devices here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW MaBoRun Marble Run 

MaBoRun Mini IV: rolling marbles doing tricks as potential energy of gravity is converted to kinetic energy. In this mini-marble run a battery powered auger conveyor (Archimedes' Screw) brings the marbles back to the top and conservation of angular momentum produces a simulation of decaying orbits as the marbles whirl down the the main funnel shaped feature. 
 

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 centripetal acceleration phenomenon. 

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.


Top Secret

This physics toy top is available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Mystery Spinning Top 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Mystery Spinning Top


The amazing green magnetic viewing film is also available: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewing Film 

Here is the 1974 patent showing the very simple circuit of this device. The spinning dipole (the top itself) induces a current in one of the coils, and this current is fed to the base of the transistor turning the electromagnet on when the top is near. 
 

"Top Secret": this top will stay spinning for more than a week- because it is actually a motor! The top is a dipole magnet (as revealed by Magneview film) and the base has an electromagnet that gives the dipole a push when the top comes near the center. An ingeniously simple circuit consisting of only a battery, a coil, and a transistor, is activated when the spinning magnet nears the coil turning on the electromagnet to give a boost to the spin of the magnetic top.

Popsicle Stick Bomb

Craft sticke work great:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Stick Bomb Supplies

Amazingly: There is a Wikipedia entry on Stick Bombs and their physics

Popsicle Stick Bomb: a form of simple tensegrity, the elastic potential energy of the bent sticks is dramatically released under application of a slight concussive force such as an impact with a table top- shown here in forward and backward slow motion (swipe to see three more explosions). Shown here is one of the simplest constructions with 5 flat sticks woven into a spring-loaded configuration held in place by friction and tension induced by the bending of the wood. A nice demonstration of energy conversion- potential to kinetic.

Magnetic Suspension Sculpture

The DIY version can be assemebled with these parts. Steel wire of guage 10 or 12 should work well. 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Quilting Hoop, Neodyumium Magnet, Steel Wire

Magnetic Hoops Suspension Sculpture: Steel circles are suspended by a magnet (black sphere) and held down to the base by a thin thread. The tops of the steel hoops, being ferromagnetic, become a north pole in the presence of the south pole end of the black magnet, so they are attracted to the black magnet, but repel each other. Made by Rathcon Inc. in 1970. Swipe to see my DIY version made from a quilting hoop, neodymium magnets, and some bailing wire. 


Trinitite Glass

Samples of trinitite are still available:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Trinitite Sample
From Mecari: BUY NOW: Trinitite Sample (wide selection)

Amazingly these Victoreen CD V-700 Geiger counters made in the 1960-70s still work great. Detetect the invisiable world of radioactivity with a piece of history! Make sure to buy the model 700, it's the only model that can detect low-level radaition sources:
From eBay: BUY NOW: CD Geiger Counter

Trinitite Glass: this piece of green glass was produced by the heat of the very first atomic explosion. Trinitite is the name given to the fused sand from the Alamagordo NM fission bomb test on July 16, 1945- code named Trinity. The 20 kiloton explosion melted a centimeter think layer of the desert sand out to a radius of a kilometer. Still mildly radioactive (as seen with this vintage Civil Defense Geiger Counter) but safe to handle. A piece of physics history! 

 

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: Pour up some hot beverage and bare branches fill with pink flowers at the bottom of these ceramic color-changing physics cups. The color change employs leuco dyes, thermochromic chemicals that have two reversible forms, one colorless.

eyeMo Linear Zoetrope

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: eyeMo Linear Zoetrope 

Click here for similar itmes: Zoetropes

eyeMo Linear Zoetrope: the physics and psychophysics of motion animation- still images flashed in rapid succession produce the illusion of motion through persistence of vision. This unique version uses an array of lenses, and the images are flashed one by one as the series of lenses moves past the eye. When the image flash rate is above the flicker fusion frequency (approximately 16Hz) we perceive fluid motion- the basis for all movies and TV.


Hydrophobic Water Maze

Wonderfully well crafted and available from this shop :
From Etsy store TheSmallestWorkshop:

BUY NOW Hydrophobic Water Maze

Hydrophobic Water Maze: a superhydrophobic coating allows this dynamic puzzle to use a drop of water as the "pinball", which can split into multiple smaller drops and recombine along the way. The wood surface is treated with silica nano-coating that makes water roll off- a condition sometimes referred to as the Lotus effect because leaves of the Lotus plant have this property.

Vsauce Mirror Anamorphosis

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. 

Dual Axis Sand Pendulum

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.