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.
Periodic Table with 83 element samples:
From Etsy store ProtoshopLLC : BUY NOW
Heritage Periodic Table
See also: The Collector's Edition with 85 samples
Please note: there are fradulent versions of this with only pictures embedded in the acyrlic being sold on facebook. The link above is the only place to get the actual version.
The Heritage Periodic Table Display: a comprehensive collection of the chemical elements that can fit in the hand. Embedded in acrylic are actual samples of 83 of the 118 elements- including pure bubbles of the gaseous elements- represented by 75 high purity samples and 7 compounds. 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the world changing periodic system of Dmitri Mendeleev (published in 1869). This table and collection is the creative work of Tim and Cory Marriott of Engineered Labs Protoshop LLC
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!
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.
These acrylic versions work great and are inexpensive:
From STEMCell Science: BUY NOW: Rattlebacks
Acrylic Rattleback: a favorite from my collection- prefers to spin counter clockwise. If spun clockwise, a complicated combination of friction, precession, and instability induced vibrations transforms the rotational energy into into rattling (energy of oscillations) and then into rotational energy in the opposite direction! This behavior is related to the asymmetric shape of the bottom of this kind of rattleback, it's somewhat propeller shaped with an "S" curve along the bottom ridge
Get a flip over tippe-top here:
STEMcell Science Shop: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops
Precision Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics! This aluminum version of the famous flip-over top works better than any I’ve seen. Friction with the desk surface provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position.
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!
Get one from David Fowler's shop:
From PhysicsHack: BUY NOW: Advanced Gyro
Made with extraordinary craftsmanship and high quality materials, and sold at a very reasonable price!
See also this other device by Mr. Fowler: Vortex Dome
Hybrid Gyroscope Top: the Advanced Gyro is a new design by @physicshack which exhibits a interesting vertical stability phenomenon when placed on this unique stand with three ball bearings that serve to minimize friction and keep the gyro centered. The top defies gravity, due in part to its angular momentum, and its spin axis slowly rises to a stable vertical position from subtle rolling friction interactions with the ball bearings. No pull cord needed, this unique design spins up via friction with a working surface (thin cardboard works well) and applying a circular motion to bring the rotor up to 1000s of RPM. Machined from solid stainless steel this top weighs in at about half a kilo, providing inertia that produces long spin times. Thanks to inventor/designer David Fowler for sending me this fantastic gyro.
Galton Board version available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW
The Random Walker: second model of two Galton Boards designed and produced by IFA.com- this version is made to demonstrate probability in investment returns of a global stock market portfolio relating to risk capacity. Slow motion reveals the erratic path of each steel ball (second half of video). The red graph shows the distribution of 592 monthly returns (mean =1%, SD=5%) representing data from 50 years of an IFA Index fund- here the random “walk” of 3000 steel balls falling through 12 levels of branching paths always produce a close match, and both distributions tend toward the famous bell curve distribution. A wonderfully 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.
Get this amazing sculpture here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Square Wave Horizon
See also: The Square Wave (Original)
Square Wave Horizon: a second incarnation of Ivan Black’s Square Wave interactive kinetic sculpture- in this version 20 interlocking right angle metal rods are mounted horizontally with accompanying base and grips at each end which allows one to rotate the structure to and fro. Waves propagate, folding the structure into a tight curl- and a reverse snap will bring it back to the initial flat square state. An important design feature is that each right angle rod is limited to move through about 45 degrees, and all through parallel axes, allowing for the beautiful rotational wave motion via a cascade of angular momentum transfer.
Get one here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Vortex II Coin Bank
Vortex II Coin Bank: interplay of potential energy of gravity and conservation of angular momentum- a simulation of a decaying orbit. Fun with every coin saved!
Get one here:
From engineDIY: BUY NOW Solar Levitating Motor (on all models here-remove brown protective film to reveal clear acrylic on rotor)
From Amazon: BUY NOW Solar Levitating Motor
Mendocino Motor: each face of solar cell is connected to a coil of copper wire under the opposing solar cell. When the rotor is lit from above the top solar cell provides electric current to the coil in the bottom position which becomes a temporary electromagnet that pushes against the permanent magnet in the base propelling the rotor to rotate. As the rotor turns, the coil that moves into the bottom position is likewise energized by the solar cell currently at the top- one can say the light commutates this motor. 2D magnetic levitation is provided by permanent magnets where an acrylic plate constrains the third dimension, and makes for a nice bearing surface for minimal friction. Invented in the 1960s by Daryl Chapin of Bell Labs and popularized by Larry Springs of Mendocino CA
This device and similar ones available from these fine sources:
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.
Magnetic Flux Pendants and other amazing science inspired fine jewelry available here:
From Foxtail Jewelry: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnetic Pendants
Magnetic Flux Gyroscope Pendant: version 2 of the @foxtailjewelry - @physicsfun collab! Two half-sphere neodymium magnets on chains remain suspended under centripetal acceleration. Another kinetic art necklace design by artist Betsy Yates of @foxtailjewelry who brings this concept to life so elegantly and is currently featuring @physicsfun inspired pendants in her gallery and store.
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.
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.
Get one here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Beam Down Star Trek Mug
Similar mugs here:
From eBay: BUY NOW Star Trek Heat Mugs
Thermochromic Beam Down Mug: Pour up some hot coffee and watch the crew of the USS Enterprise leave the ship and rematerialize on the planet surface with this color-changing physics mug. The color change employs leuco dyes, thermochromic chemicals that have two reversible forms, one colorless when wqrmed above a theshold temperature.
Get this amazing model engine here:
From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Simple Stilring Engine
See other featured DYI devices here: EngineDIY Models
Simple Stirling Engine: Perhaps the simplest piston engine ever devised- a single piston powered by a tiny alcohol lamp. Glass components allow a view of the internal workings of this design, and the interesting startup behavior from oscillation to full rotation. Heat engines produce mechanical motion from a difference in temperature- here the piston side is near room temperature (the central aluminum post is an excellent conductor and acts as a heat sink as the gas flows through), and the test tube is kept at high temperature via the flame, with metal fibers to help conduct the heat into the air (this component is called the regenerator). Swipe to see the elegant assembly of this model, and swipe again to see the engine power down. This external combustion design is attributed to Scottish engineer Robert Stirling back in 1816.