All physicsfun toys

Plasma Arc Lighter Physics

Get one here- but like any source of flame- use with caution!  
From Amazon: BUY NOW Plasma Arc Lighter 

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Plasma Arc Lighter Physics: dual arcs of plasma exceed 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 is a simple one made possible by 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. Like having a Tesla coil in your pocket! 

Iron Filing Field Detector

This device and similar ones available here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Demonstrator Kits 

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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.

Pixelated Playing Cards

Available from these fine sources: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Pixel Cards 

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Pixelated Playing Cards: what one sees is all about the lighting with this transparent deck of cards. When backlit these poker sized cards become simply a grid of dots- reminding us that what we see not only concerns the physical properties of the perceived object, but also the location of the light source and the frequency and intensity of its emissions.


Infinity Star Mirror

Sold as a tree topper: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Infinity Star Tree Topper 
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Infinity Star Mirror: parallel partially mirrored panes create the illusion of depth through the physics of reflection and refraction. Found this physics toy in the holiday decoration section at my local Target store- ? sold as a tree topper ?

Centripetal Spheres

Just thread a rubber band through two of these drilled steel balls and you are ready to go! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Drilled Spheres 

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Centripetal Spheres: two ball bearings connected by a rubber band orbit each other as energy oscillates between elastic potential energy and rotation kinetic energy. Just wind up the rubber band and let go. When the rubber band has unwound the rotational inertia of the bearings winds it back up until it changes direction. The process repeats until the initial energy is dissipated through friction.

Turbine Convection Color Candle

Available here: 
From MOMA: BUY NOW Convection Color Candle 

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Turbine Convection Color Candle: a simple heat engine by designer Achille Castiglioni- rotational motion resulting from the convection of hot air due to the candle flame of a tea light. All moving parts of thin stainless steel with semitransparent colored panels. Energy transfer: chemical bonds to heat to kinetic energy of the rising air to rotational kinetic energy of the turbine. 


Euler's Disk

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Euler's Disk 

Wikipedia has an excellent introduction to the physics of Euler's Disk 

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Eulers Disk: (best with sound on) this toy exhibits the motion of a “sprolling” coin, a motion that combines spinning and rolling. Designed with a large mass and very smooth edge, this device takes close to 3 minutes to come to rest- and amazingly, the contact point between the disk and the mirror can reach a speed of more that 200 mph! This video catches the first and last parts of this 2 minute and 42 second run, with two cuts to 240fps slow motion to show the curious motion. Watch the end with the sound on! 

Tree Tops

Produced by Playable Art 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Tree Tops 
The mirror base comes with the Euler's Disk set (Click here for Euler's Disk)

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Tree Tops: these conical wooden tops are more stable when spun on their stems than on their points. Spinning things behave differently! The mirror is slightly bowl shaped and keeps the top from walking off the table

Infinity Mirror Tea-light Candle

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Infinity Tea-Light 

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Infinity Mirror Tea-light Candle: parallel partially mirrored panes of glass create the illusion of multiple candle flames through the physics of reflection and refraction. Featuring candles from my collection this month as the winter solstice approaches.


Jupiter 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: Jupiter 

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From movaglobes.com: BUY NOW Mova Globe: Jupiter

Jupiter Globe by Mova: rotating counterweighted globe sealed within a clear liquid filled acrylic sphere. The rotation is powered by light that shines through the semi-transparent Jupiter globe 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. 

Photicular 3D Animation Book

Kainen and Kaufmann now offer four books in this series- all amazing! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Photicular Animation Books 

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Photicular 3D Animation Book: the foremost in lenticular image technology produces these looping motion images that look like videos on a computer screen. This amazing book of 8 astonishing moving images is the creation of photographer/artist/inventor Dan Kainen where the moving images use Kainen's patented process where a specially processed image slides under a thin film of lenticular lenses. Writer Carol Kaufmann puts each image into context incorporating fun science facts appropriate for kids yet informative to all. 

Photicular Dinosaur Book

From Kainen and Wollard: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Dinosaur: Photicular Book 

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Click this link for the other amazing books in the series.

Photicular Dinosaur Book: the latest in the photicular series- this time with scientific reconstructions of ancient beasts! This amazing book of 8 astonishing moving and looping lenticular images is the creation of photographer/artist/inventor Dan Kainen where the moving images use Kainen's patented process where a specially processed image slides under a thin film of lenticular lenses. Kainen has teamed up this time with Kathy Willard who puts each image into context incorporating fun paleontology facts appropriate for kids yet informative to all.  


Well Balanced Cabernet

Similar wine racks available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Balance Wine Rack 

Many well crafted versions avaulable here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Wine Bottle Balance

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Well Balanced Cabernet: a carefully engineered acrylic version of this famous demonstration- the center of mass of the rack/wine bottle system is directly over the base providing unstable equilibrium for this balancing act. Suspended here is Hypothesis by Roots Run Deep, an excellent Napa cabernet sauvignon. 

Praxinoscope

This ornament comes complete with an LED to light the images and a Vince Guaraldi Trio soundtrack! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Snoopy Skates Praxinoscope Ornament 

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Praxinoscope: this Hallmark brand tree ornament brings Snoopy to life using a century old animation technology. The praxinoscope and its predecessor, the zoetrope, both demonstrate the physics and psychophysics behind motion animation- still images flashed in rapid succession produce the illusion of motion through persistence of vision. The ring of 8 mirrors is crucial to creating the illusion allowing visual stimulus of each image for a short duration like a flip book- without these pauses only a blur is perceived. When the image flash rate is above the flicker fusion frequency (approximately 16Hz) we perceive fluid motion- the basis for all movies and TV. 


Infinity Bubble Lights

Still in production today: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW String of Bubble Lights 

This centerpiece stand with lights available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Bubble Light Centerpiece 

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Infinity Bubble Lights: a classic since the 1940’s- colored methylene chloride encased in glass vials boils from the heat of a low wattage incandescent bulb. Also known as dichloromethane, this liquid has a boiling point at 39.6 °C (103 °F), few degrees above human body temperature. ??Wishing all my followers a joyous and warm holiday! 

Holiday Pyramid

Many types and themes available: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Christmas Pyramids 

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Holiday Pyramid: a simple heat engine- rotational motion resulting from the convection of hot air due to the candle flames of two tea lights. These holiday decorations come from a German Christmas tradition, Weihnachtspyramide, that dates back more than 200 years! Energy transfer: chemical bonds to heat to kinetic energy of the rising air to rotational kinetic energy of the turbine and reindeer. 

Reflective Wind Spinner

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Wind Spinners 

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Reflective Wind Spinner: this one translates rotating motion into a repeating expanding (or shrinking) circle. An interesting one of many ways to connect rotational motion to translational motion.