All physicsfun toys

Centripetal Egg

This bird-in-egg and similar vintage style tin toys avalable here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Centripetal Egg Tin Toy

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Centripetal Egg Tin Toy

Centripetal Egg: a simple rack and pinion mechanism spins up the tin egg shell to reveal a duckling in this vintage style tin toy. The four pieces of the egg shell are held in place with a rubber band. With sufficient centripetal acceleration the elastic force of the rubber band is temporarily overcome until the spinning assembly slows down and the egg snaps shut again. 

Frabjous Geometric Sculpture Puzzle

Get one here- five colors to choose from:

From MoMath: BUY NOW: Frabjous Sculpture Puzzle

Frabjous Geometric Sculpture Puzzle: 30 identical laser cut acrylic pieces interlock into 12 interconnected five point stars (each with a spiral vortex center) in this puzzle based of the Frabjous sculpture by artist and professor of mathematics George Hart (Prof. Hart is now on Instagram, follow him at @george.hart.sculptor to see more of his amazing work.) Note that if one connects the tips of the stars one gets the outline of a dodecahedron, with its 30 edges and 12 sides, and if one considers the face planes of the linked pentagrams the underlying shape is a polyhedron called the “great rhombic triacontahedron”. A year or so ago I got to visit the National Museum of Mathematics in NYC where I bought this puzzle in the @momath1 museum shop. This puzzle was great fun to assemble- buy one to support this inspirational museum, and make a great sculpture for your bookshelf! 

Chaotic Decision Pendulum

Get this device here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Chaotic Decision-Aider Pendulum

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Chaotic Decision-Aider Pendulum

Chaotic Decision Maker Pendulum: adding magnetic forces to gravity gives this comical pointing pendulum chaotic motion- not random, but very sensitive to slight differences in initial launch conditions. Each “choice” has a dipole magnet underneath which attracts a magnet in the hand and locks the pointer into place, but only after enough kinetic has been dissipated, and until that final state is obtained the motion is chaotic. Fun physics behind this novelty gag gift.


Primed Siphon

Available here: 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW 
Primed Siphon Arch

Primed Siphon: liquid moves until the water levels are equal- curious combination of the effects of gravity, molecular cohesion, and atmospheric pressure. The tube is hollow and pre-filled with water, and the spherical shells on each end are cups also full of water. With each end of the tube submerged into each cup, atmospheric pressure holds the water in the tube until the siphon can be placed to connect the glasses. 

"Impossible" Domino

Get the 3D print files here:

From Cults3D.com: Download Now: Impossible Domino

This video from The Action Lab has a good decription of rhe physics. 

“Impossible” Domino: a pair of specially engineered domino type objects where the right domino knocks over the left one, but then stands back up! When seen in slow motion the process becomes more clear. The main factor here is that the center of mass of the left domino is higher than that of the right one, giving it much more potential energy so when the left one topples over it can transfer some energy back to the right one. Created by the folks at viralvideolab and 3D printed by my friend Roger Key (thanks!)

Acasta Gneiss

nice samples of the verified oldest know Earth rock available here: 
 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Acasta Gneiss Specimens 


Wikipedia has the details on Acasta Gneiss and see the next video and links for more geophysics fun! 

Acasta Gneiss: this polished sphere is a sample of the oldest known rock on Earth- dated at 4.03 billion years old based on multiple and mutually consistent radiometric dating techniques. This rock is only found in the Northwest Territories of Canada and was collected by Yellowknife resident Mark Brown. Happy Earth Day 2022! 


Holographic Optical Top

Limited quantities of this vintage top- available from the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum of Burlington, Wisconsin 

Aslo this vintage version available on Etsy: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Laser Disk Top 

Holographic Optical Top: a vintage sheet metal disk top spins with patterns created from reflective diffraction gratings- seen here illuminated by a light panel and flashlight- each producing illusions of depth and curious motions. Produced in the 1990s this set includes three interchangeable rings and circles of foil on card stock. 

1790 Terrestrial Globe by Mova

Available for all the planets and several versions of Earth: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Mova Globes: all types 

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Mova Globes: 1790 Terrestrial

From eBay: BUY NOW 
Mova Globes: all types 

Octopus Stand available here:
From pyrofarms: BUY NOW
OctoStand in Metal

1790 Terrestrial Globe by Mova: rotating counterweighted globe sealed within a clear liquid filled acrylic sphere. The rotation in a Mova globe is powered by light that shines through the semi-transparent map image on to solar cells within 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. Wonderful physics of all kinds in the design of this clever device. The featured map is a faithful recreation of a globe famous for its accuracy at the time by Giovanni María Cassini and highlights the voyages of James Cook.

 

Newton's Spindle

This unique toy only available here:

From safetynailer.com: BUY NOW: Newton's Spindle

Follow this link for a regular Newton's Yo-Yo

Newton's Spindle: the latest innovation- a quiet clacker (lol!) which uses neodymium magnets as the swinging weights. The weights still collide but without making physical contact via magnetic repulsion, yet the exchange of momentum is just like that of a regular Newton’s yo-yo. Newton's 3rd Law states that action force equals opposite reaction force- here the red and blue weights (embedded magnets) are equal in mass, so the forces of each collision provide accelerations that are equal and opposite such that the deceleration of the incoming mass is equal to the acceleration of the outgoing mass and the masses trade places leaving one always at rest. 


Vintage Tin Whale

This vintage tin toy sometimes found here:
From eBay: Search NOW: Tin Whale Toy

Here's another toy with similar physics:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Floating Ball Toy

Vintage Tin Whale: a toy employing the Coandă effect where an air stream attaches and wraps around the styrofoam ball trapping it in the center of the stream. As the air changes direction to flow around the ball, momentum is imparted to push the ball against gravity and levitating it in equilibrium. Amazingly the ball stays trapped even when the toy is moving. This vintage tin toy was produced in 1950 and has a blower and a propulsion mechanism- powered only by winding a spring. Sold as “Billie the Magic Whale”. 

Salt Fractionation

All the ingredients are available from your local market/drugstore. The trick is to find a dye that works for acetone, but will not color water- believe it on not blue glitter will color the acetone nicely and not change the salt water. Follow this link for details: 
ChemEd X: Blog of Prof. Tom Kuntzleman 

Of course Amazon has what you will need:

From Amazon: BUY NOW 
acetoneblue glitterfood coloring, cool bottle 

Salt Fractionation: two liquids that won’t stay mixed! Acetone (dyed blue) floats on top of the higher density salt water (dyed orange). Acetone usually dissolves in water through hydrogen bonding interactions, but solubility can be altered. In a process called “salting out” a sufficient amount of salt is dissolved such that the water molecules, which are much more attracted to the resulting Na+ and Cl- ions (through ion-dipole bonds), will then ignore the weaker acetone hydrogen bonds. This results in the spontaneous separation (shown here in real time) of the liquids no matter how well shaken up. 

Compliant Mechanical Elephant

Get the .stl files for this 3D print here:
From Thingiverse: Download NOW: CM Elephant

Learn more: mechanical engineering of compliant mechanisms

Compliant Mechanical Elephant: a demonstration of engineering using flexible elements instead of pivot joints when creating linkages. In this whimsical and clever linkage design a sideways translation of the elephant creates only rotation at the tip of the pachyderm’s trunk. Note that the hole at the end of the trunk remains eerily stationary as the body translates horizontally back and forth. This demonstration model comes from the Compliant Mechanisms Research group at Brigham Young University. Thanks once again to Roger Key for producing this 3D print. 


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 (@machinedmarvels) 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!

Maxwell's Dynamical Top: with Color Wheel

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

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

Maxwell’s Dynamical Top: A 1/2 scale precision replica of the famous “Dynamical Top” created and demonstrated by the great physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1857. The four color disk allowed Maxwell to see and study the direction of the angular momentum vector when a spinning object is subjected to a jolt/impact. After the top gets a flick from my hand note that one can see a circle of evenly changing color- the angular momentum vector points outward through the center of that circle. Balanced such that the spin point was placed at its center of mass, this unique top was used by Maxwell to experimentally test many theories about how the Earth and planets wobble as they spin. Swipe to see another astonishing property of this top described in a previous post. 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! 

Maxwell’s Dynamical Top

This version of Maxwell's Top was produced in limited quantities in the 1990s by Lee Valley Tools. Currently hard to find. 

See these posts for a detailed replica of Maxwell's Top Appratus

Similar physics to gyroscopes! Click on this link for many interesting types. 

Maxwell’s Dynamical Top: one of my favorite demonstrations of the strange properties of rotating bodies- this version based on an experiment by the great physicist James Clerk Maxwell. When this massive brass bell shaped top is spinning an interesting stability can occur- push on the stem with an object (like a pencil) 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. In this design the stem will trace along the edge of a metal spiral, clinging to it like a magnet- but 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 right angle to the direction of friction that creates the stabilizing force (students of physics may recognize application of the right hand rule here). An extreme physics toy! Produced in small quantities 20 years ago, unfortunately hard to find for sale now.


Rolling Marble Sculpture

Similar innovative rolling ball sculptures available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Marble Machine
From Etsy: BUY NOW: 3D Printed Marble Runs

See more (miniture) marble runs here: Marble Run Fun

Rolling Marble Sculpture: marbles perform gymnastics as potential energy of gravity is converted to kinetic energy. An elegantly designed auger conveyor, an Archimedes' Screw, brings the marbles back to the top (powered by an AA battery and a small motor). Conservation of angular momentum produces a simulation of decaying orbits as the marbles whirl down the the main funnel shaped feature. 

Ferromagnetic Interaction

Here is the NdFeB neodymium magnet used in this video:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neodymium Disk Magnet

Please use extreme caution when handeling strong magnets like this one. Small nails, paperclips, staples and other houlshold object made with iron will interact interestingly with the magnetic feild. 

Ferromagnetic Interaction: iron rich nails temporarily become dipole magnets in the presence of an intense magnetic field from a large neodymium super magnet. Here the neodymium disk magnet is set with its north pole pointing up, so the point of each nail becomes a south pole (repelling each other) and the head of each a north pole. Imbued with these temporary induced fields, the nails will try to align themselves with the neodymium dipole’s field like compass needles, and the nails will interact with each other in interesting ways.

Hero's Engine

This live steam engine is available here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Hero's Engine

Hero’s Engine: the very first steam engine ever devised, the Aeolipile is a radial steam jet reaction turbine, an a invention attributed to Hero of Alexandria in the year 1 AD. Water within the spherical container is heated to produce steam which exits through nozzles directed at right angles to the radial direction, and by Newton’s third law these jets produce a torque about the rotation axis. There is no historical record of this engine being put to practical use in ancient times- except perhaps as the world’s first physics toy!