All physicsfun toys

Glass Hydro-Top

Available in four colors and designs: 
From StemCell Science: BUY NOW: Glass Water Tops

Glass Hydro-Top: under centripetal acceleration a liquid will flow to create a cylindrical surface parallel to the axis of rotation. This blown glass dreidel contains a small amount of colored water that when spun resembles a blue gemstone banded around the rim. A unique design with fun physics!

CUMOS Cube Kaleidoscope

The CUMOS Cube is a creation of artist Minori Yamazaki. Available for purchase- inquire via the contact info below:

Learn more here: Cosmos in a Box

CUMOS Cube: a variation on the Kaleidoscope by artist @minori.yamazaki that produces a Cosmos in a box. So much wonder hidden within this unassuming white cube where etchings on front surface mirrors produce the repeating geometric patterns. A moving light source (led flashlight) is projected on the cube producing the dazzling animation effect on the multiple reflections. 


Pharaoh Hollow Mask Illusion

Similar vintage items are often found on eBay: 
From eBay: Search NOW Hollow Mask Illusion Lamp 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Hollow Mask Illusion Lamp
Also available: Einstein! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Einstein Illusion 

Wikipedia has the details on the Hollow Mask Illusion 

Pharaoh Hollow Mask Illusion: this ceramic lamp features a concave image lighted from the bottom, which appears as a regular convex image via this vintage version of the hollow face illusion. An amazing feature of such an inverted image mask is that King Tut appears animated, and seems to always be looking in the direction of the viewer. Spooky physics and psychophysics for Halloween! 

Halloween Neon Glow Bulb 

Similar neon discharge glow bulbs can still be found:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs

Halloween Neon Glow Bulb: the pumpkins, with a high voltage between them, glow orange with light from the emission spectrum of the excited neon atoms of the low pressure gas within the bulb. The ghost glows from a coating of phosphor which is stimulated to emit green light by ultraviolet (and invisible) photons. Excited neon atoms emit photons both in the visible (mostly orange and yellow wavelengths), and also in the UV wavelengths, and these ultraviolet photons are absorbed by the phosphorescent coating on the ghost plate which then emit the absorbed energy as green light. Amazing physics in a light bulb! 

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb

Often these are sold on eBay:
From eBay: Search NOW Flicker 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.


Iron Filing Field Detector

This device and similar ones available here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Demonstrator Kits 

Iron Filing Field Detector: visualizing the invisible- the magnetic field lines around a dipole bar magnet. In the presence of a magnetic field, ferromagnetic materials (such as iron) temporarily become magnets. Here the iron filings become dipole magnets and link up and align like tiny compass needles to follow and reveal the magnetic field lines associated with the permanent magnet underneath. Viscous silicone oil temporarily keeps the iron particles suspended yet allows for rotation and repositioning under the influence of the magnetic field.

Kinetic Traced Hyperboloid

This hard to find sculpture currently available here:

From Amazon:BUY NOW: Hyperbolic Kinetic Sculpture

See also this: DIY kit version

Kinetic Traced Hyperboloid: a straight rod glides through a symmetric pair of curved holes in this kinetic sculpture based on the hyperboloid, the 3D ruled surface traced by an offset revolved straight line. This version is made of anodized aluminum and rotates via gearing and a motor powered by two AA batteries in the base. 

Magnetic Flux Gyroscope Pendant: V2

Magnetic Flux Pendants and other amazing science inspired fine jewelry available here:

From Foxtail Jewelry: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnetic Pendants

Magnetic Flux Gyroscope Pendant: version 2 of the @foxtailjewelry - @physicsfun collab! Two half-sphere neodymium magnets on chains remain suspended under centripetal acceleration. Another kinetic art necklace design by artist Betsy Yates of @foxtailjewelry who brings this concept to life so elegantly and is currently featuring @physicsfun inspired pendants in her gallery and store.


Magnetic Flux Gyroscope Pendant

Magnetic Flux Pendants and other amazing science inspired jewelry available here:

From Foxtail Jewelry: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnetic Pendants

Magnetic Flux Gyroscope Pendant: two neodymium magnets on chains remain suspended by their mutual magnetic attraction. This kinetic art necklace design is from a new line of physics inspired jewelry- a collaboration with designer and artist Betsy Yates of @foxtailjewelry who so masterfully brought this concept to life and is currently featuring @physicsfun inspired pendants in her gallery and store. 

Vertical Mendocino Motor

Get this device for a great price here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Vertical Mendocino Motor

Vertical Mendocino Motor: each face of solar cell is connected to a coil of copper wire. Spins fast and quite in a sunny window. As the rotor turns each solar cell takes a turn in the brightest light, which provides electric current to one of the coils which becomes a temporary electromagnet that pushes against the permanent magnet configuration in the center- propelling the rotor to rotate. The rotor assembly is nicely symmetric and balances on a sharp point for minimal friction. Invented in the 1960s by Daryl Chapin of Bell Labs and popularized by Larry Springs of Mendocino CA 

Time's Up

Similar timers available from these sources: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Inverted Timer 


From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Inverted Timer 


Time's Up: inverse of the sandglass- tiny plastic beads are less dense than the water and thus ascend to the top of the container under the influence of a buoyant force in accordance with Archimedes' principle. This timer takes almost exactly 6 minutes to complete shown here at normal speed for the first half of this video, and the second half is condensed to 24 seconds in time-lapse. 


Precession of a Gyroscope

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Gyroscopes 
From eBay: BUY NOW Gyroscopes 

Precession of a Gyroscope: in defiance of gravity this gyroscope is supported only at one end. The physics and vector nature of angular momentum! Note that as friction slows the rotor of the gyroscope down, the precession rotation rate gets faster and faster. After some energy loss the gyroscope contacts the table and vibrations move the unit around while the angular momentum maintains its orientation. 

Color Flame Candle Spectrum

Color Flame candles available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Flame Birthday Candles

Get the diffraction grating used in the video here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Diffraction Grating

or paper glasses version as party favors!
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Diffraction Glasses

Color Flame Birthday Candle Physics: the colored parts of these candle flames are due to excitation of specific chemical elements mixed into the wax. When viewed through a diffraction grating some of the prominent emission frequencies (electrons jumping between quantum energy levels) can be seen as “ghost” images to the side as the grating separates the light into the spectrum emitted by each flame. Most notably the yellow candle has a strong yellow/orange emission line from sodium, the red candle has similarly strong red and orange lines from strontium, and the blue and green candles have a bunch of overlapping violet/blue/green lines from copper and probably potassium. Note that glowing tip of the wick creates a thin line of the full continuous spectrum. 

Vintage Wilesco Steam Engine

Available from these sellers: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Wilesco Model Steam Engines 

Often available on eBay: BUY NOW: Wilesco D16 Engine


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.


Electric Motor

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

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.

Non-Circular Gears

Get these wonderful laser cut sets here (I only added some bright spray paint): 

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Non-Circular Gears

Non-Circular Gear Trains: a survey of a few designs using gears with some interesting shapes that can produce variations in rotation speeds. Swipe to view: two oblong gears, four squircle gears, and two logarithmic spiral gears. Just a small sample of the infinite possible shape combinations and arrangements of non-circular gear sets. With thanks to the Jeux Efce shop for sending me these wonderful laser cut gears and mounts.