Best Sellers

Gas Collection for Emission Spectra

I made the display holder and I got this set of gas tubes here (about $7 per tube): 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Gas Pure Element Samples 

Here is the miniture tesla coil used in the video:
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Tesla Coil

The breakdown voltages of the elements featured in this post are described by Paschen's Law: 
 
Here is a excellent article with an overview of the physics of glow discharge and its application in lighting and other technologies. 

Gas Collection for Emission Spectra: pure samples of hydrogen, nitrogen and five noble gasses are subjected to the high frequency pulsed field of a miniature Tesla coil. Each gas has a characteristic breakdown voltage and emission spectrum- note that Nitrogen has the highest breakdown voltage and only glows when very near the coil where the field is most intense whereas Neon and Helium have the lowest breakdown voltage and begin to glow many centimeters away from the coil. The color of each gas is due to a mix of the colors emitted from electron energy transitions specific to each element- the basis of spectroscopy. The Krypton tube also exhibits interesting oscillations with this particular Tesla coil. 

The Galton Board

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Galton Board 

The Galton Board: 3000 steel balls fall through 12 levels of branching paths and always end up matching a bell curve distribution. Each ball has a 50/50 chance of following each branch such that the balls are distributed at the bottom by the mathematical binomial distribution. One of my favorite finds of 2018! An elegantly designed modern version of the Galton Box invented by Sir Francis Galton(1894) to demonstrate the Central Limit Theorem - showing how random processes gather around the mean. In addition the number of balls in each bin can be predicted by Pascal's triangle (printed on the face over the pegs).

Magswitch

The smallest Magswitch in this product line, yet it can lift 17 lbs! The Magjig 60: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magswitch 60 
From eBay: BUY NOW Magswitch 60 

Magswitch: switchable permanent magnet- a twist of a knob turns on a magnetic field strong enough to lift this 5.2 kilogram (11 pound) chunk of railroad rail. Magnetic fields, when combined, can be either additive or subtractive. This Magswitch model, the Magjig 60, works by aligning and counter-aligning two strong neodymium dipole magnets within a field channeling ferromagnetic casing.


Tesla's Egg of Columbus

Get this amazing (and affordable) reproduction here:
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Tesla's Egg of Columbus
This version comes with a 35mm solid aluminum sphere. 

Get the aluminum phiTOP "egg"  here: BUY NOW phiTOP 

Tesla’s Egg of Columbus: an aluminum 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. The base has no moving parts- instead special copper windings (very similar to Tesla’s original design) form four electromagnet coils on a circular steel core, and a special circuit supplies each with AC currents in such a way that a rotating magnetic field is created. This rotating magnetic field from the coils under the concave glass induces electric eddy currents to flow in the aluminum ellipsoid- these currents then create their own magnetic field which oppose the initial fields underneath and pushes the ellipsoid to spin. Finally, the ellipsoid top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. 

 

 

Tea Candle Steam Engine

Get one from these fine sources: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Tea Candle Steam Engine 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Tea Candle Steam Engine 

Other interesting engines available here: Simple Heat Engines

Tea Candle Steam Engine: a functional piston steam engine complete with boiler and flywheel. Takes about 2 minutes to get going after the candle is lit. The invention that powered the industrial revolution on a desktop! Made by Wilesco. 

The Swinging Sticks

The Swinging Sticks Desktop Toy version from their website: 
From GeelongShop.com: BUY NOW The Swinging Sticks
 

The Swinging Sticks: a driven coupled chaotic physical pendulum as kinetic art where the placement of the rods' axes of rotation are engineered to exhibit the widest range of interesting motion. Four AA batteries and a simple electromagnetic kicker circuit in the base gives a tiny push to a magnet in the end of the large rod, keeping the system in motion for over a year! Perhaps one of the most famous physics toys out there as it was featured in the movie Iron Man II (sitting on the desk of Pepper Potts).


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 

From eBay: BUY NOW Mova Globes: all types 

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. 

Raketti Puzzle

Versions of this puzzle avaioable fron these sources: 
From CuriosityBox: BUY NOW Raketti Physics Brain Teaser
From Etsy: BUY NOW Raketti Physics Puzzle 

Raketti Puzzle: physics brain teaser- the challenge is to remove the cone topped cylinder from the hole without touching the bottom container (no fair using sticky tape or such). It can be done in a matter of seconds! The solution to this puzzle (like others featured here) relies on some fun physics principles. 

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 

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! 


Hyperboloid Spinner

Kit available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Hyperboloid Spinner: HypnoGizmo 

Hyperboloid Spinner: the HypnoGizmo toy consists of a set of slanted straight nylon lines arranged to form the outline of a hyperboliod- the quadratic surface related to the revolution of hyperbola around its axis of symmetry. As the device rotates the beads slide along in succession on one of the straight paths leading to the complex visual display. So much fun math in this toy!

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!


Photochromic Frisbee

Get this quality flying disk here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: UV Chameleon by Discraft

You may also want a powerful UV flashlight:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: High Power UV Light

Photochromic Frisbee: the plastic of the UV Chameleon by Discraft contains photochromic pigment molecules that actually change shape when struck by photons of UV light, and the new shape alters their absorption properties such that they reflect a deep purple color. The color is temporary- room temperature thermal energy bumps the molecules back into their original configuration, and the color fades back to white in about 3 minutes (shown here sped up x7). A long wave UV flashlight is used to “paint” the disk purple, and sunlight will do the same very quickly.

Chaotic Fidget

This is the exact one used in the video- works well! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Double Pendulum Chaotic Fidget 

Chaotic Fidget: a double pendulum spinner- chaos in the palm of your hand! This miniature double pendulum is made from stainless steel, which provides high mass so one can feel the unbalanced center of gravity shift about, and bearings in the joints allow for smooth and sustained motion. Slow motion reveals the intricacies of the chaotic motion, characterized by extreme sensitivity to initial starting conditions, tiny differences in how the system is released leads to dramatically different outcomes each time. 

Oil Drop Timer

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Drop Timer 

Oil Drop Timer: immiscible liquids (colored oil in kerosine) in two connected containers. The oil in each container falls through a small drop forming hole in between clear walls of acrylic. Note how surface tension forms the smaller drops into nearly perfect circles and limits the size of the drop formation. In addition the drops fall at terminal velocity with smaller drops falling faster than larger ones. Repost of one of my favorite inexpensive physics toys.


Corona Discharge Trajectories

Mini Tesla coil with wire end attachment- get one here: 
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Tesla Coil

Long exposure image captured using this Slow Shutter app: 
 
From App Store: BUY NOW: Slow Shutter Cam 

Corona Discharge Trajectories: the ejected electron stream propels the end of a thin wire connected to a miniature Tesla coil. The corona discharge creates a glowing plasma at the end of the wire, but also imparts momenta that pushes the wire’s end into a final state circular orbit. The more interesting behavior occurs during the initial transient orbits which seem to be hypotrochoid type curves beautifully captured here using the Slow Shutter app. Please see seven posts back for details about this mini Tesla coil. 

The ΦTop

Professor Brecher has a limited supply of these "golden" (brass) versions of this top available on Etsy 
From Etsy: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Brass 

Aluminum version available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW phiTOP 

The ΦTop - Golden Version: spinning things have surprising physics! This unique top is made of solid brass in the shape of a prolate elIipsoid- and the name of the top is derived from the following design requirement: the ratio of the semi minor (short) axis to the semi major (long) axis is made equal to the mathematical constant the golden ratio φ (phi). Invented by astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, this top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. The concave mirror keeps the top from wandering off and the glass surface has minimal friction allowing the top to spin for a long time- this video shows various stages of 8 minutes of total spin time.

Nixie Tube Clock V2

The Nixie Tube Clock in the video is of amazing craftsmanship- real hardwood with brass accents and solid construction. Get one from this excellent shop: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW 
Nixie Tube Clocks 

Nixie Tube Clock V2: long before there were 7 segment LED displays there was the Nixie- cold cathode tubes with a wire mesh and 10 cathodes shaped in the form of numerals 0-9 that illuminate through neon glow discharge. The “Numeric Indicator eXperimental 1” or NIX 1 was introduced in 1955 by Burroughs Corporation and manufactured until the 1990s. This clock uses modern electronics to power Russian versions called the ИH-12A where the numbers are stacked so the front symbols obscure each lighted cathode minimally: from back to front 162750483.