Budget physics

Drop & Pop

Available from these fine sources: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Dropper Popper
From Amazon: BUY NOW Drop and Pop Toys

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Drop & Pop: stored elastic energy. The elastic potential energy of the inverted rubber is released upon impact sending the half-sphere to hit the ceiling. Upon impact the popper reconfigures back to its original shape in the blink of an eye, shown here recorded at approximately 480fps.

Spring Launcher Toy

Get these inexpensive toys here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spring Launcher Monsters

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Spring Launcher Toy: spring force vs. suction cup, or more specifically, Hooke’s law vs. fluid pressure of air. Initially the spring remains compressed (with potential energy stored) due to some part of the always present 14.7 pounds per square inch of air pressure pressing down on the flattened elastic cup. The toy suddenly launches when enough air leaks past the imperfect seal and reduces the partial vacuum under the cup, so that the spring can overcome the force of the fluid pressure of the air- rather catastrophically! So much physics behind this common toy. 

Cartesian Jellyfish Divers

Get these charming jellyfish here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Jellyfish Divers

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Cartesian Jellyfish: increasing pressure in the water compresses air bubbles inside the plastic capsules, filling them further with water making them sink in this cute version of the famous Cartesian Diver toy. In this whimsical version the jellyfish also spin when the pressure is released as the water is channeled out of the capsule/head in a sideways jet. Pascal’s principle states that any change in pressure on an enclosed fluid (such as squeezing the plastic bottle) is transmitted evenly to every part of the fluid- the physics of hydraulic brakes! Named after the physicist and philosopher Rene Descartes.


Ambiguous Suits & Hearts 

Get this ambigous object illusion here:

From SEO Magic: BUY NOW: Heart Metamorphosis by Kokichi Sugihara

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

See other: ambigous object illusions in my collection

Ambiguous Suits & Hearts: I first discovered and posted the work of mathematician Kokichi Sugihara’s amazing ambiguous object illusions in 2017. Here is one more really nice example of his original work that was sent to me by my good friend Tim Rowett.

RGB Lightpipe Bracelet

Get a blank bracelet here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Changing RGB Bracelet

Personalized bracelets avialable here: BUY NOW: Color Changing Personalized Bracelet

Get this diffraction grating here to explore light source spectra:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: 500 line/mm diffraction grating

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

RGB Lightpipe Rave Bracelet: three LEDs (red, green,blue) combine to make an entire pallet of colors that are transmitted through the translucent band via internal reflection and refraction like a fiber optic cable. A diffraction grating reveals the variety of colors produced is simply a mixture of red, green, and blue (note that white = R+B+G), the same way pixels on your phone or laptop use RGB mixing to produce color images. The bracelet can be personalized and has a magnetic clasp- fun physics for your next rave! 

 


Helicone Kinetic Fidget Pen

Get the original and well made design here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Lollipopter Kinetics

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Helicone Kinetic Pen: a gift shop find of fidget physics fun on the end of a ballpoint pen. A snap of the wrist imparts angular momentum to the “petals” which then rotate until an internal mechanism stops their motion with predetermined spacing- clockwise rotation transforms a helix to an abstract pine cone, counterclockwise returns the helix. Created by @john.edmark 

Fire Piston

Get a set here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Fire Piston Demonstration 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Fire Piston: rapid adiabatic compression creates enough heat to ignite and incinerate a small ball of cotton. Similar physics to how Diesel engines ignite fuel without a sparkplug. Adiabatic processes are those in which heat does not flow from the system to the environment, achieved here by the short duration of the compression- to get a flame it has to be done quickly with some force! 

Pyramidion Kaleidosphere Kaleidoscope

Get this affordable and amazing Kaleidoscope here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Pyramidion Kaleidosphere

See other Kaleidoscopes in my collection

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Pyramidion Kaleidosphere: a precision made (and affordable) acrylic kaleidoscope of 3 tapered mirrors which creates reflections that appear as a 3D curved surface, and with clear gaps in each side that appear upon reflection as a geodesic cage that surrounds the central image. Shining a light through these clear gaps (and the end sphere) creates the brilliant blue flashes and intricate patterns of light. Designed by artist Nick Moore and produced with extremely clean lines by BrilliantAdventures.com. The kaleidoscope itself was invented by the famous Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), and kaleidoscope innovation is still an evolving art form. 

 


Balancing Seabird 

Get this carved wooden bird here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Balance Seagull

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Balancing Seabird: this bird balances on its tail rather than its beak in this variation of the famous physics toy. The weight of the elongated wings creates a center of mass below the bird’s tail- making a system in stable equilibrium. No magnets used or needed! This hand carved and painted bird comes with this optimal display stand. Inexpensive physics fun!

Thumbler Gyroscopic Desk toy

Avilable here:

From Top Secret Toys: BUY NOW: Thumbler gyro toy

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Gyroscopic Desk Toy: a new unique take on spinning tops and gyroscope type toys where the spin rate is induced by forced precession- that is, by swirling the device by hand at just the right rate. The top of the enclosed top is constrained to move in a circular trough that keeps it at the required precession angle. The physics is similar to the “Dyna Bee” wrist exercisers, but much easier to engage and spin up, and with a unique motion path. The toy is also equipped with LEDs that turn on with a centripetal switch and then create interesting patterns (that are hard to capture due to frame rate issues). A creation of physicist/inventor Gregory Ojakangas. 

Rheoscopic Fluid Flow Toy

Get this toy (and two variations) here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: GooToobz Fluid Flow toy

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Rheoscopic Fluid Flow Toy: this simple toy reveals the complexity of turbulent fluid flow as liquid travels between chambers through a series of bends. Compressing both chambers with equal pressure can temporarily halt the flow and show the lingering turbulence induced by the acceleration of the viscous fluid around the u-turn bends. Tiny flakes of mica are suspended in the fluid and these platelets reflect light only when the fluid motion brings them into a certain orientation. Oddly satisfying to the extreme. 


Ooze Tube Viscosity Contrast

Many colors (and two sizes) to choose from: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW  Ooze Tube 3 Colors 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Ooze Tubes 

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Ooze Tube Viscosity Contrast: this set of ooze tube timers comes with 3 mixtures of polyisobutene fluid, each with a different viscosity where green always wins the race: green (thin), yellow (medium), and red (thickest). A curious periodicity in the rate of flow is related to the formation of non-spherical bubbles as the air and fluid trade places (an hour shown in time-lapse). The fluid also displays the “liquid rope-coil effect” where the fluid thread coils and stacks as it lands on the pooling surface.The physics of the liquid rope-coil effect is pretty complex. Here is a recent scientific paper on the topic with nice illustrations. 
Journal of Fluid Mechanics: Multiple coexisting states of liquid rope coiling 

 

Invisible Ink and UV LED Pen

This item came to me in my Winter 2022 Curiosity Box subsciption:
Get (or give!) a Curiosity Box subscription here: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box

Get this amazing and inexpensive version of the Spirograph here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spirograph Animator

Get a similar pen and UV light here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW UV Pen

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Invisible Ink and UV Pen: this pen utilizes a clear ink that when dry is barely noticeable, but contains fluorescent compounds that reveals its presence under long wave ultraviolet light. This cool pen with UV LED light came in my @thecuriositybox yesterday where I applied it to make some hypotrochoid roulette curves with this pocket Spirograph set. 

 

 

Mag Flip Inverted Pendulum Fidget

Available from this fine vendor:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Mag Flip Desk Toy

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Mag Flip Inverted Pendulum Fidget: three embedded neodymium magnets provide tactile repulsive forces in this simple but intriguing system. Pressing down on one side increases the magnetic potential energy that will then send the pendulum into frantic motion until the kinetic energy is damped out after a series of oscillations. This fidget can also be used as a random coin flip with respect to which side it will land. 

 


Magnetic Soma Cube

Get this inexpensive SomaCube here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Magnetic Soma Cube

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Magnetic Soma Cube: a new fun variant of the famous math toy invented by Danish scientist and artist Piet Hein, who claimed that this puzzle came to him as he was listening to a lecture on Quantum Mechanics by Werner Heisenberg (yes- that Heisenberg). The seven pieces of this puzzle are all the ways 3 or 4 cubes can be joined such that the piece has at least one inside corner. In this version small magnets are encased in cleverly designed cavities such that they will always flip over to attract a counterpart in another puzzle piece, allowing the puzzle to stick together- or hang from the side of the refrigerator. Amazingly there are 240 ways to make the cube from these 7 pieces- still not that easy! 

Convection Turbine Candle with Elephants 

Get similar candles here (many themes to choose from):

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Spinning tea-light candle

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spinning tea-light candle

Note: this site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated

Convection Turbine Candle: pachyderms on parade via this whimsical tea-light candle holder which is actually a simple turbine heat engine where rotational motion results from the convection of hot air from the candle flame. All moving parts are of thin stainless steel with some assembly required. Energy transfer: chemical bonds- to heat- to kinetic energy of the rising air- to rotational kinetic energy of the turbine and elephants.