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?
Get a set here!
From Amazon: BUY NOW Buzzing Magnet Set
Rattlesnake Eggs: polished barium- strontium ferrite ceramic magnets influence each other when many centimeters apart. Turn sound on--Wait for it! Sold as "buzzers" these magnets come together with multiple bounces creating a characteristic zipper sound. Most shops and online vendors incorrectly label these as hematite- a completely different substance that does not magnetize well.
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From Amazon: BUY NOW Helicone Interactive Kinetic
The Helicone: an interactive kinetic sculpture designed by @john.edmark and distributed by playableArt. With a bit of practice I finally mastered the transformation in both directions: A snap of the wrist imparts angular momentum to the laser cut wood petals which then rotate until an internal mechanism stops their motion with predetermined spacing- a helix transforms to an abstract pine cone. A second snap of the wrist in the opposite direction returns the helix.
Fun balance toy sculptures are available on Amazon:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Sculpture Toys
Vintage Kinetic Art: Eames era kinetic sculpture seemingly defies gravity as it glides in a graceful circle. The gold plastic sphere plus wire structure is designed such that its center of mass is few centimeters below the point of contact with its base. When the sculpture is tipped or spun, the center of mass swings under the pivot point in this stable equilibrium condition- no magnets needed to create this physics magic.
From Amazon: BUY NOW Kaleidograph
Kaleidograph: hand held manipulable mathematical art. Stack, rotate, and flip two or more of these 12 double sided die cut cards into billions of possible arrangements! (30 shown here) A toy that integrates the math of combinatorics with the beauty of symmetry.
Get a levitating moon globe lamp here!
FromAmazon: BUY NOW Levitating Moon Globe Lamp
The Levimoon: this detailed moon globe is an adjustable lamp that levitates! Charged through wireless induction via the base, the moon floats above the Earth while illuminated from the inside to reveal the major features of the lunar surface, and will rotate when given a slight push. This kind of levitation uses a control system with an adjustable electromagnet in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allows for fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity.
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From Amazon: BUY NOW Rainbow Diffraction Candle
Diffraction Spectrum Candle: a thin plastic diffraction grating surrounds the flame in this rainbow producing design. The rainbow spectrum is produced not by refraction like that of a prism, but instead by diffraction, where light waves deconstructively and constuctively interfere.
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From Amazon: BUY NOW Infinity Tea-Light
Infinity Mirror Tea-light Candle: parallel partially mirrored panes of glass create the illusion of multiple candle flames through the physics of reflection and refraction. Featuring candles from my collection this month as the winter solstice approaches.
Get this beautiful two layer radiometer here:
A wide variety available here, including some nice blown glass displays:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Radiometers
Double Radiometer: a beautiful new version of this classic physics toy with two rotators enclosed in the same partial vacuum chamber. Light heats up the vanes which then heat up the very thin gas left in the bulb- the black side of the vane is hotter and any gas molecules that comes into contact with the black fly off at a faster speed imparting impulse to the rotor. The bottom rotor has black on the right side of each vane and rotates clockwise, the top rotor has black on the left sides and thus has the opposite rotation.
Available in limited supplies here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Candle See-Saw
Bimetal Seesaw Engine: candle powered heat engine- with bears! A coiled bimetal strip, like that found in a thermostat, uncoils when heated by the flame while moving a counterweight that shifts the center of mass to the left and takes the coil out of the flame. The coil then cools returning the counterweight to the right which places the coil back over the flame- and the process repeats until the candle burns out. Any device that converts heat energy into mechanical motion is called a heat engine- like the very simple one here.
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Hyperboliod Spinner: The HypnoGizmo
Hyperboloid Spinner: the HypnoGizmo toy consists of a set of slanted straight nylon lines arranged to form the outline of a hyperboliod- the quadratic surface related to the revolution of hyperbola around its axis of symmetry. As the device rotates the beads slide along in succession on one of the straight paths leading to the complex visual display. So much fun math in this toy!
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.
Similar itmes available here: From amazon: BUY NOW: Lighting Plasma Lamps
Lava Lightning Lamp: low pressure noble gasses glow due to discharge from high voltage and stimulate colored phosphors to emit yellow, blue, and red in this vintage device by Lava. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the outer glass casing 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 240 fps slow motion. Another of my vintage plasma lamps in my collection.
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From Amazon: BUY NOW LED Newton's Cradle
Modern LED Newton's Cradle: the classic physics demonstration of conservation of momentum and energy cleverly updated with LEDs and light sensors that synchronize color with changes in motion.
Many types and themes available:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Christmas Pyramids
Holiday Pyramid: a simple heat engine- rotational motion resulting from the convection of hot air due to the candle flames of two tea lights. These holiday decorations come from a German Christmas tradition, Weihnachtspyramide, that dates back more than 200 years! Energy transfer: chemical bonds to heat to kinetic energy of the rising air to rotational kinetic energy of the turbine and reindeer.
Get Iluminature here, along with other RGB books:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Illuminature Book
Illuminature Book: three books in one- the supplied absorptive gel filters transmit only a narrow range of frequencies (red, green, and blue here) and the inks on the page that do not match with the color range of each gel are revealed as dark images. This book explores 10 ecosystems from around the planet, and on every page red reveals animals seen during the day, blue shows nocturnal creatures, and green unveils the diversity of plant life. The art design is part of the RGB project by the CARNOVSKY design team (Silvia Quintanilla and Francesco Rugi) with informative biology written by Rachel Williams.
Jupiter Globe by Mova: rotating globe sealed within a clear liquid filled acrylic sphere. The rotation is powered by light that shines through the semi-transparent Jupiter globe on to solar cells inside 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. Physics of all kinds in this clever device.