All physicsfun toys

Refraction Vanishing Act

This glass device is available from this shop in Germany: 
From BUY NOW Vanishing Glass Demonstration 

Refraction Vanishing Act: the liquid (immersion oil) in this glass tube has the same index of refraction as the glass. When the oil covers the glass rod inside the tube, the rod becomes invisible! Immersion oil is used with high resolution microscopes and designed to have the same index of refraction as the glass slide and objective lens. This physics puzzle demonstration was handcrafted by a glass maker in Germany and is sold by experimentis, the online shop for physics. 

RGB Color Addition

These Light Blox are available in this nice kit from Laser Classroom, a science education supplier: 
From Laser Classroom: Light, Color and Shadow Kit 

Wikipedia has a fantastic introduction on the topic of RGB Color Theory 

RGB Color Addition: three LED light boxes demonstrate the additive nature of colored light. Mixing Red, Green, and Blue to create Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan. An object casts shadows showing the following mixings: R+G=Y, G+B=C, and R+B=M. Adding all three R+G+B produces White (a little pinkish here as the Red is a little bit bright for complete white balance). RGB color addition is the basis for all computer and TV displays- all the colors you are looking at right now on your screen are made from adding pixels of R G and B in different proportions and intensities!

Andris Tri-Zonal Space Warper

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Andrus Tri-Zonal Space Warper 
From eBay: BUY NOW Tri-Zonal Space Warper 

Magician and professor of psychology Richard Wiseman describes the genius of Jerry Andrus and the psychophysics of the Space Warper

Andris Tri-Zonal Space Warper: Stare at the center of the spirals for at least 15 seconds- the next thing you look at will appear to be in motion. This spinning disk top features the famous illusion by magician Jerry Andrus that demonstrates aspects of the physics and psychophysics of our visual perception- specifically the part of our brain that detects motion. The effect is even stronger in person than in the video.

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Airplane Glory

Wikipedia has this introduction to the phenomena of the Aircraft Glory 
For a detailed discussion with math, see this entry from the Physics Stack Exchange 

Airplane Glory: optical phenomenon that forms rings of color in the clouds- in this case around the shadow of my 737 flight, and is not the same physical process as that of a rainbow. Airplane glories are produce only by very tiny droplets (tens of visible light wavelengths across) in the cloud, and arise due to complex process called wave tunneling, where the electromagnetic waves that make the colors are induced in the drop by a photon only passing close by its surface. Interestingly, the exact details of this phenomenon is still an active area of research! Caught this out the window returning yesterday from a national science teachers convention in Atlanta. 

Mirror Anamorphosis

This image by István Orosz is available as a poster and as a puzzle: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mysterious Island Puzzle 
From BUY NOW Mysterious Island Poster 

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. 
Many books are available (with mirror cylinders) from Amazon: Anamorphic Art in Books 

Mirror Anamorphosis: this famous print by artist István Orosz has a hidden anamorphic image revealed by placing a mirrored cylinder over the depiction of the moon in the image. The work visualizes a scene from the book “The Mysterious Island” by the science-fiction author Jules Verne- whose portrait emerges in the reflection on the cylinder. The math describing this mapping is quite complex and was given in detail in a physics journal in 2000, but before that Martin Gardner described the math in 1975. Repost for this week’s theme as I head to G4G! 

Balance Drinking Vessel

Get a set here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Cups

Balance Drinking Vessel: physics meets design in this stainless steel cup- when empty the cup tilts to one side, but when full it stands straight. The walls of this spherical vessel are hollow, asymmetric, and weighted, designed with the center of mass displaced from the symmetry axis such that the empty cup rests in stable equilibrium at a 23 degree tilt. The addition of mass (pouring a drink) within the offset interior of the cup places the center of mass (cup + contents) onto the symmetry axis allowing an upright stable equilibrium. Designed by Katja Hoeltermann for Carl Mertens design of Solingen Germany. 

Tumble Rings

I made this set of tumble rings from reading Martin Gardner's description in his famous mathematical recreations books- highly recommended: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Knots and Borromean Rings by Martin GardnerDescribes the Tumble Rings 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Books on recreational math and puzzles by Martin Gardner Lots of physics and math toys in these pages! 

Tumble Rings: the links in this chain are connected in a special way such that the top ring appears to tumble to the bottom- a compelling illusion! 

Pluto Globe by MOVA

Available here: 
From BUY NOW Pluto MOVA Globe 

Wikipedia has a wonderful summary of the 2015 Pluto flyby and the complete mission of the New Horizons space probe. 

Pluto Globe by MOVA: simulate the historic 2015 Pluto flyby of NASA’s New Horizons space probe with this self rotating detailed image of the dwarf planet’s surface. Each MOVA rotating globe is sealed within a clear liquid filled acrylic sphere. The rotation is powered by light that shines through the semi-transparent Pluto 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. Love this clever device. With thanks to @movaglobes for sending me this amazing globe. 

Pet Tornado

This vintage item is out of production. Here are some similar times based on whirlpool vorteces: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Vortex Lamps

"Pet Tornado": whirlpool powered by a magnetic stirrer (like those in a chemistry lab). The knob on the side has settings F1 through F5 ? One of my sillier toys- but vortices are just so cool.

Optical Trick Portraits

If you are ever in Florence be sure to visit the Galileo Museum and see the original- as well as a collection of Galileo's telescopes and experiments. 
Visit: Museo Galileo 

Optical Trick Portraits: Hold a flat mirror up to this painting of Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, to reveal his daughter Christina in this 1593 work by Ludovico Buti. A very early example of lenticular images, Gioco Ottico hangs in the Galileo Museum in Florence as part of the Medici Collections. I got this toy version from the museum gift shop a couple months ago. 

Skye Blue Cafe Wall Illusion

See more illusion art from Victoria Skye here: 
From Illusion and Impossible Objects 

Skye Blue Café Wall Illusion: the horizontal blue lines appear to be sloped but they are actually parallel, as verified by sighting a straight line from the edge of the image. This visual illusion is related to the level of contrast between sharp boundaries, and if the boundaries are blurred (here with a plate of frosted glass) the illusion is broken and the lines appear parallel. Note that even after we verify the lines are parallel, our perception still misleads- a reminder that we need science to transcend the limits of our senses and cognition. This award winning illusion was created by artist Victoria Skye and is featured here with permission. @vicskye

The Civilized Glass

Another science toy from Taiwan! Produced by the Mr. Sci Science Toy Factory 
From Mr. Sci Science Toy Factory: Buy Now Civilized Glass 

Learn more about the Pythagorean Cup on Wikipedia 

The Civilized Glass: a most elegant version of the famous Pythagorean cup. Functions as a normal glass, but if the glass is filled above the top of the central column a siphoning effect is triggered and all the contents in the glass drains out the bottom through the hollow stem. With this glass moderation is key! This well made glass design by @mrscisciencefactory allows one to see the mechanism of the siphon tube usually hidden in ceramics 

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Physics Toy Website

for @physicsfun Instagram followers
I get asked often: "Where did you get all this stuff?" My goal is to share the real magic of science and physics- and to this end I will update here (and in my store) suggestions on where to get some of these toys, kinetic art pieces, and scientific curiosities for yourself. Purchasing items from the links on these pages will help support my IG page of science and wonder. 
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