All physicsfun toys

Pearl Vault Puzzle

Get this puzzle here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Pearl Vault Puzzle

Pearl Vault Puzzle: a tetrahedron assembly of four identical pieces traps within a pearl. Three challenge aspects to this puzzle: 1) get the pearl out from the center, 2) explain the physics of how the disassembly occurs, and 3) reassemble- for which 3) might be the most challenging. Swipe for reveal and note the conservation of momentum aspect of the solution. Designed by Bruce Patterson and expertly produced by Pyrigan Puzzles. 

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The Curiosity Box: an excellent way to start your own physics toy collection! 
Get (or give!) a Curiosity Box subscription here: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box

Radiometers of many shapes and sizes are avialable here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Radiometers

Radiometer: This device goes way back, invented in 1873 by the famous chemist Sir William Crookes when he was investigating partial vacuum environments. Light heats up the “vanes” which then heat up the very thin gas left in the partial vacuum within the bulb- the black side of the vane is hotter than the silver side and any gas molecule that comes into contact with it flies off at a faster speed imparting impulse to the rotor. 

Hexacon and Sphericon Rollers

Get these and other amazing developable rollers here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Hexacon and Sphericon Rollers

Hexacon Roller: beautiful 3D printed versions of a recent mathematical discovery of new developable rollers (objects that roll where every point on the roller’s surface comes into contact with the plane upon which it rolls). Similar to the sphericon (based on a square) the hexacon rolls in a straight line with a peculiar wobble motion but has a hexagonal cross section (swipe to see video loop of each in motion). The hexacon (2019) and sphericon (1980) are two of a family of such rollers called polycons discovered by David Hirsch, and described in a paper by Hirsch and Seaton published in 2020. 

Maxwell's Dynamical Top: Historical Replica

Get this accurate and beautiful 1/2 scale replica here:

From Machined Marvels: BUY NOW: Maxwell's Dynamical Top

Maxwell’s Dynamical Top: one of my favorite demonstrations of the strange properties of rotating bodies- shown here with a 1/2 scale but exacting replica of the famous “Dynamical Top” created and demonstrated by the great physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1857. When this brass bell shaped top is spinning an interesting stability can occur- push on the pointed stem and the top will push back, forcing the stem against that object, and friction will cause the stem to roll along and trace the edge of the object. Note- magnets are NOT involved here. The key to this design is to make the contact point/tip of the top at its own center of mass, then any frictional force in contact with the stem will produce a torque about the contact point at a right angle to the direction of friction that creates the stabilizing force (students of physics may recognize application of the right hand rule here). This beautiful historical replica is now available from machinist and creator Jim Peever @machinedmarvels- and as far as I know the only other replicas of this device where made in the 1880’s!

Mathematica Eames Souvenir

Wikipedia has great info about Mathematica and where to see it. 

The Poincare Disk is a representation of non-Euclidean gemometry and tesselations can look amazing- M.C. Escher used this math for his famous Circle Limit woodcut.

Mathematica features a large Galton Board (click to get one).

Mathematica Eames Souvenir: from the 1961 opening of “Mathematica: A World of Numbers and Beyond” by the famous design team of Charles and Ray Eames this souvenir of card stock features a tessellation of the hyperbolic plane (a Poincaré Disk) with triangles on the front and on the reverse is the title of the exhibit but hidden within an anamorphic font. Amazing math art before the age of computer graphics! There are three versions of the exhibit and all can still be seen at museums in Boston, Atlanta, and Dearborn. 

Motion of Rolling Sphericons

Get these and other amazing developable rollers here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Hexacon and Sphericon Rollers

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Sphericons are unique solids that roll in such a way that every point on their surface comes in contact with the plane. Solids from the sphericon family all have one side and two edges. Each sphericon is based on an even sided regular polygon, with the basic sphericon derived from a square, and the next two possible shapes are the hexa-sphericon and octo-sphericon, each rolling with a more complicated path.

LEDs as PV Cells

Need a UV laser pointer? Get 3 lasers (one of each color) for under $10: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW red+green+blue(UV) laser pointers

LEDs are really inexpensive these days- for $10 get this assortment of 350 LEDs to experiiment with:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: LED assortment 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

For well explained details of the physics see this amazing video by Steve Mould

LEDs as PV Cells: the physics of solar cells (photovoltaic cells) is the reverse process of LEDs (light emitting diodes). Shown here is a very simple circuit I soldered together- a blue LED and red LED connected. When a stream of energetic photons (from a 405nm violet laser pointer) is directed onto the blue diode it produces enough current to power and light the red diode! I saw this demo from fellow physicist @richardvandewege and had to reproduce it for my collection- check out his profile for more fantastic physics via creative demonstrations. 

Perpetual Motion Simulator V2.0

This new demonstration transparent model is available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Transparent Perpetual Simulator

Get the original here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Perpetual Marble Machine (reccomended seller: William Le of BackToNatureDecor)

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Perpetual Motion Simulator V2.0: a version with a transparent casing that reveals the sophisticated mechanism and electronics behind the newest “perpetual motion” toy that hit the internet a couple years ago. The original version was expertly crafted to make the base look like a block of wood (see post from November), but here we see a battery, a coil, a set of large capacitors, and a blue sensor unit along with circuit boards. The sensor detects the descending metal ball and then in an amazingly short amount of time the circuit discharges the capacitors through the coil to produce a magnetic pulse that accelerates the ball. Still looking into what kind of sensor is used- but this circuit is an excellent reminder that when someone claims a perpetual motion device the question to ask is “where’s the battery hidden?”

See Steve Mould's excellent video for details on the Perpetual Motion Simulator Circuirtry 

Electric Motor

Get this easy to assemble kit here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Simplest Motor Kit 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Electric Motor: in its simplest form!- coil, magnet, and battery. The wire of the coil has an insulating coating- and this coating is carefully scrapped off one side on each end. When current passes through the coil it becomes an electromagnet and the permanent magnet repels it making it spin- as it turns the currents goes on and off depending if the copper posts are in contact with the bare wire (current on) or the still insulated wire (current off). I have motors with fewer parts- but they operate on more complex principles.

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