All physicsfun toys

Gauss Gun

Similar device available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Gauss Gun

Gauss Gun: acceleration of steel balls through magnetic potential energy and cascading collisions. Four neodymium magnets provide the potential energy that is converted into significant kinetic energy of the end steel ball. The initial configuration has two steel balls on one side of each magnet- an incoming ball on the opposite side accelerates and impacts each magnet in turn sending each loosely connected second ball off with greater speed. 

The PhoTOP

Get a PhoTOP from these fine vendors (comes with laser pointer!):

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhoTOP 
From Vat19: BUY NOW: PhoTOP

Another amazing spinning device by Prof. Ken Brecher! Get his other spinning tops here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: PhiTOP, PiTOP, eTOP, iTOP, DeltaCELT

The PhoTOP: phosphorescent glow illuminates the intricate path of a 405nm laser pointer beam on a balanced spinning disk. Let the disk set alone for a few minutes to allow the traces to fade- and repeat again and again to experiment making new patterns.

Kinetic Sandscape

This version is very well made and shows the phenomena of spontaneous stratification better than most versions I've seen: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Kinetic Sandscape 

Kinetic Sandscape: the phenomenon of spontaneous stratification is a striking feature of this sand motion desk toy. Typically pouring stuff together results in further mixing, yet here, when the sand mixture descends through a gap in the air bubbles, the resulting pile is ordered into sorted layers. The larger rounded dark grains separate from the smaller sharp-edged white grains forming the layers you see here. The darker grains alone would stack into a steeper pile (larger angle of repose) than the white which would form a less steep pile. The stratification process is a slow one in this device, here about 30 minutes have been condensed to the 60 second IG format. 


Marble Run 3D Print

A high quality 3D print (with steel marbles) available here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Marble Run Fun

Or print it yourself: From Thingiverse: Cyclone Marble Run

Marble Run 3D Print: a design that looks like it came off the page of a Dr. Seuss book has rolling marbles doing tricks down 3 tracks as potential energy of gravity is converted to kinetic energy. In this mini-marble run a fingertip (or end of a pen) powers an auger conveyor (Archimedes' Screw) to bring the marbles back to the top. A wonderful and whimsical designed by Øyvind Kaurstad.

Tensegrity Table

Get this 3D printed/hand painted tensegrity art here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: LUNA Tensegrity Display Table

Tensegrity Table: A wonderful three string version of the suspension equilibrium table. The LUNA tensegrity stand is 3D printed and then painted by hand, with designer Anthony Yap incorporating a celestial moon phase motif to nice effect, and clear nylon fishing line for an almost invisible means of support. Another configuration related to the concept of tensegrity invented by Kenneth Snelson and made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949. 

Magnetic Top and Snake

Available in a variety of styles: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Magnetic Top and Snake 

Magnetic Top and Snake: the magnetic tipped top stays on the perimeter of the steel snake (or is it a planarian?)- but since the top has much more mass, the snake moves the most slithering to and fro. This kinetic art toy has been around for decades and takes advantage of Newton's 3rd law and rotational kinetic energy. 


Wobbler Roller

Get this very nice laser cut version here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Desk Wobbler

Check out my posts on similar geometric objects: developable rollers

Wobbler Roller: a very simple toy today- two half circle perimeters affixed at right angles which surprisingly can then roll in a straight line with a peculiar wobble motion. When rolling, a wobbler always touches the table top at two points which could be connected by a straight line, and forms the frame of the geometric shape called a sphericon (featured in a previous post). 

Cosmic Eye Rheoscopic Display

A KickStarter campaign for resonably priced interactive art: 

From KS: Pledge NOW: Cosmic Eye

Cosmic Eye Rheoscopic Device: visualizing the invisible- where suspended microscopic flat crystals reflect light and allow visualization of the fluid's motion. This rheoscopic fluid is special in that the suspended microscopic particles are slightly ferromagnetic and will align with any external magnetic field that is brought near the device. A small magnet within allows interesting interactions as well. From creator and artist Robert Spillner.

 

Light Pipe Sculpture

Get an affordable pre-bent light pipe demo here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Light Pipe Demo

Blue laser pointers (445nm) available here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Blue Laser
but any color laser will work. 

Make your own abstract light pipe sculpture, an inexpesive heat gun is the only needed tool:
Materials from eBay: BUY NOW: Acrylic Rod
Tool from Amazon: BUY NOW: Heat Gun

Light Pipe Sculpture: internal reflection constrains most of the laser light to propagate along the bent acrylic rod- the physics of fiber optics. This abstract sculpture was created by applying a heat gun to a 3/8” diameter acrylic rod. The laser pointer used here is blue at a wavelength of 445nm.


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: ice cold liquid produces blue blossoms on the initially bare branch, but pour in a hot beverage and the branch fills with pink flowers! The designs at the bottom of these ceramic color-changing cups employ leuco dyes, thermochromic chemicals that have reversible forms, one colorless.

MetMo Cube 

The team at MetMo release these cubes for sale periodically:

From MetMo.co.uk: Inquire Here: MetMo Cube

MetMo Cube: art from precision metalworking technology- a wire EDM (electrical discharge machine) can cut out two ovals from a 0.5 kg cube of solid stainless steel, and leave a gap of less than 0.05mm around the cutouts! The EDM process, sometimes called spark machining, removes material from the work piece by a series of rapid current pulses, that when bathed in dielectric liquid creates electric arcs that “vaporize” a precise bit of metal with every pulse. A 3D printed base is mounted to the bottom to create a tight seal and connect the two chambers so air can transfer between allowing pneumatic manipulation, and the satisfying slow descent (video in real time). From machinist/artist Paegan Ward and the MetMo (Metal in Motion) team. 

Spring/Latch Polymagnets

Avilable here: 
From Polymagnet.com: BUY NOW 
Spring/Latch Pair Demo 


Get some magnetic viewing film here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Viewing Film 

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Viewing Film 

Spring Latch Polymagnets: this pair of coded magnets attract but don’t touch in a state of stable equilibrium at a distance of 1/2 cm- but if one magnet is turned a half twist they latch together. Magnetic viewing film reveals the specific and complex arrangement of N and S poles that allow for this set to act like a spring or a latch (although only if constrained to an axis along their centers). 


Exothermic Crystallization Heat Pack

Available in many sizes and colors: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Click Activated Resuable Heat Pack 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Click Activated Reusable Heat Pack 

Exothermic Crystallization Heat Pack: real-time instant crystallization of a supercooled solution. Solid sodium acetate melts at 137F (58C), but it will stay in liquid form as it cools to room temperature creating a supersaturated and supercooled state- the solution stays in the liquid form until a seed crystal, provided by clicking the metal disk, initiates the solidification. The resulting white crystal is actually quite hot; solid states have lower energy than liquid states and thus the difference in energy is given up as heat that raises the temperature back up to the melting temp, and you can see in the few seconds of the video that the temperature rises from 26C to 34C. This pack is reusable many times- just boil the pack until all the crystal is melted to reset. 

Color Gradient Magnetic Viewing Film

Get this new technology here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Magnetic Viewing Film

Color Gradient Magnetic Film: making the invisible visible and revealing the hidden beauty of the physics in our everyday world. Microscopic cavities in this thin film are filled with suspended magnetic nanoparticles that interact with magnetic fields producing different colors from orange (low field strength) to dark blue (high field strength). Here three “fridge magnets” and a coded neodymium magnet show surprising field complexity when placed under this film.

3D Pentominoes

The set I used for this video is called Pocket Katamino and is available here
From Amazon: BUY NOW Pentominoes 

3D Pentominoes: the 12 possible arrangements of five identical squares, joined edge to edge, form the set of all pentominoes. Since 12x5=60, the pentominoes can tile a 6 x 10 rectangle with no gaps (2339 ways to do this- yet even finding one solution is a challenge). This set of colorful pentominoes is made so that the height of each piece is the same as the width of the constituent squares, such that 3D constructions can be made. Since 3x4x5=60 one can build a box with these dimensions (amazingly, 3940 ways to do this- but again, finding one is still a fun challenge). 


Optical Glass Cube Sculpture 

Mr. Lustig's art is typically sold at art gallery pricing:
From Nellie Bly: BUY NOW: Lustig At Glass (Call the shop for availabilty of the small piece in the video)

See other optical sculptures here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Optical Light Sculptures

Optical Glass Cube Light Sculpture: multiple internal reflections create intricate and delicate patterns within this crystal glass cube with beveled prismatic edges and concave lens shaped indentations on three faces. The bottom three faces are coated with special metal oxide layers that create color through the physics of thin film interference. This is the smallest (4.0 cm on edge) cube featured by artist Harold Lustig, famous for his precision optical glass sculptures. 

Pentakis Geometric Kaleidoscope

This item is hard to find, but I believe it is in stock here: 
From AHA in Zurich: BUY NOW Pentakis 

for More kaleidoscopes click here

Pentakis Geometric Kaleidoscope: three triangle mirrors in a pyramid configuration create a stellated dodecahedron. The tapered mirrors are in the form of a 60°-72°-60° isosceles triangle with the apex of the pyramid cut off just right to form the triangle of light that is then reflected up to 60 times to create the star in the center of view. Pentakis by Caspar Schwabe. 

Vortex by Lava Lamp

A DIY kit by the makers of Lava Lamp, home experimentation set with booklet of ideas to try:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Lava Lamp LED Vortex kit

From eBay: BUY NOW: Lava Lamp LED Vortex kit

Vortex Lamp: a simple whirlpool powered by a magnetic stirrer like those in a chemistry lab and lit by LEDs. A DIY kit by Lava Lamp brand- which comes with glitter and beads, but I found the water vortex alone was mesmerizing to watch. Note the intricately changing structure of the vortex in the slow motion close up.