DIY

Cartesian Jellyfish Divers

Get these charming jellyfist here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Jellyfish Divers

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.

LEDs as PV Cells

Need a UV laser pointer? Get 3 lasers (one of each color) for under $10: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW red+green+blue(UV) laser pointers

LEDs are really inexpensive these days- for $10 get this assortment of 350 LEDs to experiiment with:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: LED assortment 

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

For well explained details of the physics see this amazing video by Steve Mould

LEDs as PV Cells: the physics of solar cells (photovoltaic cells) is the reverse process of LEDs (light emitting diodes). Shown here is a very simple circuit I soldered together- a blue LED and red LED connected. When a stream of energetic photons (from a 405nm violet laser pointer) is directed onto the blue diode it produces enough current to power and light the red diode! I saw this demo from fellow physicist @richardvandewege and had to reproduce it for my collection- check out his profile for more fantastic physics via creative demonstrations. 

Perpetual Motion Simulator V2.0

This new demonstration transparent model is available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Transparent Perpetual Simulator

Get the original here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Perpetual Marble Machine (reccomended seller: William Le of BackToNatureDecor)

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

Perpetual Motion Simulator V2.0: a version with a transparent casing that reveals the sophisticated mechanism and electronics behind the newest “perpetual motion” toy that hit the internet a couple years ago. The original version was expertly crafted to make the base look like a block of wood (see post from November), but here we see a battery, a coil, a set of large capacitors, and a blue sensor unit along with circuit boards. The sensor detects the descending metal ball and then in an amazingly short amount of time the circuit discharges the capacitors through the coil to produce a magnetic pulse that accelerates the ball. Still looking into what kind of sensor is used- but this circuit is an excellent reminder that when someone claims a perpetual motion device the question to ask is “where’s the battery hidden?”

See Steve Mould's excellent video for details on the Perpetual Motion Simulator Circuirtry 


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Electric Motor

Get this easy to assemble kit here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Simplest Motor Kit 

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

Electric Motor: in its simplest form!- coil, magnet, and battery. The wire of the coil has an insulating coating- and this coating is carefully scrapped off one side on each end. When current passes through the coil it becomes an electromagnet and the permanent magnet repels it making it spin- as it turns the currents goes on and off depending if the copper posts are in contact with the bare wire (current on) or the still insulated wire (current off). I have motors with fewer parts- but they operate on more complex principles.

Polariscope and Snowflake Decor

The needed snowflake decoratons and polarizing film are affordably priced here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: acrylic snowflake decorations

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Polarizing film

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

Polariscope Holiday Decor: while wearing my polarizing sunglasses I happened to notice psychedelic and fractal like colors appearing within these snowflake decorations, inspiring further exploration and production of this display. What’s going on? Polarized light revealing the hidden rainbows due to internal stresses imposed on polymer materials such as these snowflake ornaments of polystyrene, a technique used to model stress distribution patterns in engineering. Place the polymer samples between two linear polarizer filters and the internal stresses created by the molding process during manufacturing produce colors through birefringence due to photoelasticity.


Chaotic Triple Pendulum

Availalble here (some fun assembly required):
From Grand Illusions Ltd.: BUY NOW: Chaotic Pendulum Kit

See also this very nice, fully assembed, double pendulum: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW Double Chaotic Pendulum 

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

Chaotic Triple Pendulum: the intricate dance of chaotic motion from an assembly of three physical pendulums, shown here (partly) in 120 fps slow motion, where the energy imparted to the system moves back and forth between the potential energy of gravity to the kinetic energy of motion until eventually damped out via friction. Chaotic motion is characterized by extreme sensitivity to initial starting conditions, tiny differences in how the system is released leads to dramatically different outcomes each time. A second of many configurations possible with this extraordinary design by Kontax Engineering Ltd.

Mini Tensegrity Table

Get this well designed kit here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Tensegrity Stand

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

Mini Tensegrity Table: thin but strong cables provide the support in this precision machined version of the tensegrity concept, where flexible tethers under tension are placed in balance and create an illusion of levitation. The first tensegrity structure was invented by Kenneth Snelson in 1949 and the concept was later made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller. This stand by Kontax Engineering Ltd came as a kit and was a lot of fun to assemble.

Similar spinning scupture available here:
From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Mezmoglobe Kinetic Object 

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Mirror Anamorphic Lenticular Cup & Saucer

Now available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Anamorphic Wavy Cups & Saucers

See all the amazing illusions and art avaialble from Luycho: Luycho | A New world on Mirrors

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

Mirror Anamorphic Lenticular Cup & Saucer: a flamingo sits in a nest of flowers, revealed when the cylindrical mirrored cup is put in place. This beautiful design by Luycho uses both mirror anamorphic reflection and an accordion type lenticular dual image (turning the plate 180 degrees trades images). Art meets math and physics once again!

Kinetic Magnetic Wave Wires

Get this affordable kit here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnet Wires Kit

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

Kinetic Magnetic Wave Wires Kit: explore the surprising ways oscillating kinetic energy is exchanged when repulsive magnetic fields allow masses on springs to interact with each other. Here three weighted springs dance in chaotic motion as they trade kinetic energy. This educational coupled oscillator kit comes with wire springs of equal length capped at both ends with magnets of equal mass and equal field strength which can be configured in myriad way by the experimenter on the included metal base.


Tensegrity Mobile Stand

Get this well designed kit here:

From Kontax: BUY NOW: Tensegrity Stand

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

Tensegrity Mobile Stand: thin cables levitate and support a smartphone at an angle in this high tech precision machined version of the tensegrity concept, invented by Kenneth Snelson and made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949. This stand by Kontax Engineering Ltd came as a kit and was a lot of fun to assemble.

Sonic Photonic Visualizer

This item came to me in my Summer 2023 Curiosity Box subsciption:
Get (or give!) a Curiosity Box subscription here: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box

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

Sonic Photonic Visualizer: a laser reflects from a small mirror mounted on a stretched rubber membrane which allows the projection of complex curves produced by the deformation of the membrane from sound waves. Yet another amazing kit from the VSauce team at @thecuriositybox which uses a balloon as the membrane for the top of the “drum”. The membrane is most sensitive to sound waves in the bass and midrange frequencies and I got the best reaction with my Bluetooth speaker playing Moon Flower by Tahüm- a snippet of which is featured here.

Electrostatic Interactions

Get a similar and fun DIY kit here:

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Electrostatics Kit 

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

Electrostatic Interactions: a triboelectric effect toy from the 1990s. The styrofoam spheres are given an acquired net negative charge by shaking the PET plastic container, and the foam beads are then attracted to the container wall but repel each other. (The foam balls pick up electrons when they strike the container walls.) A segment of PVC pipe also acquires a negative charge when rubbed with a paper towel, and here the foam spheres jump a centimeter or more when the pipe segment is brought near. In contrast, a segment of acrylic tube can acquire a positive charge, and will instead attract the styrofoam pellets as it is brought near the container. A demonstration of the invisible electric fields that are part of our everyday world.