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!

Arrow on Mobius Strip

Get the 3D print stl files here:

From printables: download now: Mobius Strip with Arrow

Arrow on Möbius Strip: on the geometry of a Möbius strip a right pointing arrow points left after one trip around, a second trip restores the original orientation. This mathematical property is called non-orientability, and is also true of Klein bottles which I’ve posted about. I love how this 3D printed model, designed and produced by Wes Pegden, allows one to physically manipulate and intuit this somewhat obscure mathematical property. 

Impossible Bottle with Arrow

Get an impossibe object from this artist here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Impossible Bottles and Objects

Impossible Bottle with Arrow Sculpture Puzzle: a new seemingly impossible object in my collection- Created with clever engineering, this “impossible” syrup bottle contains a wooden arrow that should not fit through its neck. The wood of the arrow is notably one uncut piece, and yet a metal washer is also somehow trapped on the shaft of the arrow. The puzzle aspect is to consider how the bottle was produced (I personally have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist). I can tell you with high certainty that the bottle was never cut or altered in anyway, and it was not somehow formed around the objects. This bottle by Brad Byers is an expertly crated example of the impossible object genre.

Lissajous Roller 

Available from Pyrigan & Co.

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Lissajous Roller Illusion

Lissajous Roller: when viewing this 3D printed object from the side one sees a projection of a 3:2 Lissajous curve, but the object is actually cylindrical in frame and can roll towards or away from the viewer. When in motion a “dual axis illusion” is produced where the object appears to be rotating about a vertical axis. Invented by Bill Gosper and produced by Pyrigan & Co. 

Stomachion Puzzle

Get this 3-color laser cut acrylic version here:
From Kadon Enterprises: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle

Also a very nice multicolor acyrlic version here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle

Learn about the 1998 discovery of the lost writings of Archimedes (and the technology used to recover them) in this TED talk

Ancient Stomachion Puzzle: the oldest known puzzle, discovered in the writings of the great Greek physicist and mathematician Archimedes from some 2200 years ago. The puzzle is a dissection of a square into 14 polygons, where the areas of each piece are integer multiples of each other (a curious way to slice it up). In 2003 Bill Cutler showed that there are 536 district ways to configure these pieces to make the square (five are shown here), ignoring simple rotations and reflections. Swipe to see the most famous solution, attributed to Archimedes himself, that was found in an ancient manuscript discovered only in 1998- before this date historians knew the name of the puzzle, but no one knew what it looked like. Kate Jones, the maker of this particularly aesthetic version, found that when using only three colors for the polygons, there are only 6 solutions where no two pieces of the same color touch (four solutions shown here).

Half Seirpinski Octahedron Fractal

Get this amazing 3D print here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Seirpinski Pyramid

or print it yourself:
From Thingverse: Seirpinski Pyramid

Half Sierpinski Octahedron Fractal: this 3D printed math sculpture is one half of the sixth iteration of what is called “the octahedron flake” a 3D fractal based on the Sierpinski triangle. To make this fractal, on each iteration an inverted triangle is removed from the center of the previous triangle, and if this process is repeated indefinitely one gets the famous fractal. This 3D print used rainbow silk PLA to create the beautiful color gradient base on the .stl files by Rick Tu. Another example of math brought to life via 3D printing! 


Iron Filings in Silicone Oil Suspension

Available from these fine sources: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer Set (get the demo set)

Similar device here:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer with Magnet 

Iron Filings in Silicone Oil Suspension ( Iron filing field detector ): visualizing the invisible- the magnetic field lines around a horseshoe 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.


3D Wordflip Sculpture

Create your own here:

From BUY NOW: 3D Wordflip

3D WordFlip Sculpture: from one point of view my logo appears, rotate 90 degrees and the sculpture reveals my tagline phrase “real magic”. Alternatively the messages can be cast as shadows (swipe to view). Amazingly you can create and print any two phrases of your choosing from the webpage of artist and designer Joris Sparenberg.

Tesla’s Egg of Columbus

PhiTOPs are available in Aluminum and Brass: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Brass 
From EI: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Aluminum 

Click here for more on the PhiTOP and using magnetic induction to spin it up. 

Tesla’s Egg of Columbus: a copper ellipsoid egg (PhiTOP) mysteriously spins and stands upright in this modern version of Tesla’s famous demonstration from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago that first showcased the principles behind wireless power transfer and his AC induction motor. Rotating magnetic fields from under the wooden platform induce electric eddy currents to flow in the copper PhiTOP- these currents then create their own magnetic field which oppose the initial fields underneath and pushes the PhiTOP to spin. This version differs from Tesla’s in that the rotating magnetic fields are created by, well, a pair of rotating neodymium magnets (revealed by lifting the top platform in this model). Credit to astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, the creator of the PhiTOP, and this unique means of using a common lab magnetic stirrer to create the induced currents. Finally, the ellipsoid top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. 

Three Polarizing Sheets

Get some polarizing filter sheets here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Polarizing Sheets 

See this short introduction to linear polarizing filters on Hyperphysics, and many more details on polarization from Wikipedia

Three Polarizing Sheets: quantum mechanical behavior with light polarization. Two linear polarizing sheets oriented at 90 degrees blocks all light- if a third sheet is placed between, oriented at 45 degrees, an eighth of the original light then gets through! A classic example of the quantum mechanical phenomenon of superposition of states as it pertains to the polarization orientation of photons and probability of transmission. 

Floating Yen

Aluminium 1 Yen coins are the perfect denisty to float as shown in the video:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: 1-Yen Coins

Floating Yen: the surface tension of water is strong enough to suspend the aluminum coin, and a trapped column of air in a second glass can submerge a portion of the surface with the coin. The 1-Yen coin has just the right mass and density for this demonstration. One of my favorite DIY physics demonstrations.

Impossible Trapped 8-Ball

Get this amazing object here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Trapped 8-Ball

Trapped 8-Ball: one more addition to my “impossible object”collection- a solid wooden frame contains an 8-ball which is too large to fit through any of the holes. The puzzle aspect is to consider how the ball was somehow inserted (as usual I personally have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist). I can tell you with high certainty that the frame was fabricated from a single piece of wood, and once made, never cut or glued in anyway. A creation by artist/maker Troy Hawkins. 




Hexa Sphericon

3D printed as well as handmade sphericons and similar shapes avaiable here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Sphericons 

Sphericon and Hexa-sphericon: beautiful works of art in metal- available here!
From the Matter Collection: BUY NOW The Sphericon (Hex and Regular) 

Hexa-Sphericon: Sphericons are unique solids that roll in such a way that every point on their surface comes in contact with the plane- following the path shown here with white paper. Solids from the sphericon family all have one side and two edges. Each sphericon is based on a regular polygon, with the basic sphericon derived from a square, and here- a more interesting case with more complex rolling motion- from a hexagon. 

Giant Newton's Cradle

This industrial grade museum quality device available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Giant Newton's Cradle

Regular sized Newton's cradles availabe here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Newton's Cradle

Newton's Cradle: industrial model made with galvanized aircraft cable, aircraft aluminum for the frame, and 1.5 inch one-half pound nickel plated chrome steel spheres. (0.23 kg and 3.8cm in diameter each) The classic demonstration that shows the curious behavior due to conservation of both momentum and kinetic energy. Swipe to see comparison to standard version.

Cone of Apollonius

Similar models available here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Cone of Apollonius

Cone of Apollonius: Slicing a cone with a plane will produce the famous curves known as the conic sections, as demonstrated with this beautiful vintage wood model by Nasco. Slicing at a right angle to the cone’s axis of symmetry produces a circle, and tilting the intersecting plane a bit produces an ellipse. When the plane is tilted parallel to the side of the cone the curve produced is a parabola, and tilting even further creates a hyperbola. The discovery of the mathematics demonstrated here are attributed to Apollonius of Perga from about 250 BC- thousands of years later Kepler, Newton, and others showed these conic sections to be intricately connected to many branches of physics such as planetary orbits and the optics of telescopes.

Polarizing Filter Black Wall Illusion

Amazon lists acrylic tubing at a reasonable price: get a 2 foot long tube with an inner diameter of 1.5 inches for about $17 US. This will accommodate a large marble for the demonstration. 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Acrylic Tubing 

For a 1.5 inch inner diameter (3.8 cm) tube you will need a 10 inch (25.4 cm) wide sheet to complete a cylinder inside the tube. 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Polarizing Film

Polarizing Filter Black Wall Illusion: two sheets of polarizing film (with polarization axes oriented at 90 degrees to each other) create this illusion inside an acrylic tube. Physics magic!

Spinning Arc Plasma Lighter

Get a rechargable circular plasma ignition source here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spinning Arc Lighter

Plasma Arc Lighter Physics: a rotating arc of plasma exceeds 1100 C (2000 F) on this flameless lighter. The breakdown voltage of air is about 3000 Volts per mm. Thus the circuit in the lighter must provide about 12,000 volts to produce this 4mm arc. The circuit involves a transformer with very fine wire windings, a transistor, and a powerful lithium-ion battery (USB rechargeable). The circuit produces high frequency current oscillations in the coils that in turn produce the needed high voltage- basically a Tesla coil for your pocket! 

Four Marble Puzzle

Get this well crafted puzzle from Creative Crafthouse here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Crossroads Four Marble Puzzle 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Four Marble Puzzle 

Four Marble Puzzle: physics brain teaser- move all four marbles to their corner locations simultaneously. Each slot slopes down towards the center such that the marbles tend to stay at the center- so, how would one get them to roll outward at the same time? The solution to this puzzle (like others featured here) relies on some fun basic physics principles. Answer below and swipe to reveal solution. A beautiful and well-made puzzle from Creative Crafthouse.