kinetic Art

Boulliant de Franklin (Hand Boiler) Collection

A variety of shapes and colors are available 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW: Hand Boilers 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Hand Boilers 

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Bouillant de Franklin Collection: my collection of vintage hand boilers, physics toys of blown glass that feature a reversible liquid-gas phase transition and demonstrates the relationship between temperature and pressure in an enclosed volume. The dyed fluid within each is typically dichloromethane which is in both liquid and vapor states. Heat from a hand, or from this catering warming tray, increases pressure in the bottom bulb pushing the liquid to the top bulb. Originally made famous by Benjamin Franklin, the first to describe the physics of its operation. 

UFO Spin Top

Get this fun and well made top here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: UFO Spin Top
or collect the whole set: UFO Spin Top Collection

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UFO Spin Top: this whimsical flying saucer shaped top is made of stainless steel and features a ceramic sphere to reduce friction at the contact point, allowing this heavy and well balanced top to spin for more than 5 minutes with a good snap of the fingers (start up and final seconds of wind down shown here). Spin tops- classic physics toys of antiquity! 

CMY Color Cube and Stand

Get this cube here:
from Amazon: BUY NOW: CMY Cube and CMY Cube Stand

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CMY Color Cube with Stand: this special mount reveals the hexagonal outline hidden within every cube- and highlights the “cube within a cube” illusion. Thin films cover parallel sides of the transparent cube in cyan, magenta, and yellow which comprise the elements of the CMY subtractive color model- viewing the cube through various angles allows exploration of interesting combinations of the CMY elements- and contemplation of the physics and psychophysics of color perception. 
See also: the CMYK model and colorspace on Wikipedia. 

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

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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!

Mesmoid Kinetic Object

Get this desk toy set here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: MESMOID Kinetic Object

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Mesmoid Kinetic Object: an elegant physical pendulum for the desk top demonstrates curious periodic motion. The pendulum, precision machined out of weighty polished brass, is a cylinder with an eccentric circle cut out. When set in to motion on the supplied smooth black marble slab, the Mesmoid will rock back and forth for three minutes or so until friction slowly dissipates the kinetic energy and the system comes to rest. The latest in a series of amazing kinetic objects created and designed by physicist and artist Kenneth Brecher. 

Kinetic Magnetic Wave Wires

Get this affordable kit here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnet Wires Kit

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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

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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.

Jansen's Linkage Walker

Get this device here:

From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Jansen's Linkage Walker

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Jansen’s Linkage Walker: a mesmerizing motorized sculpture that features Jansen’s linkage- a unique leg mechanism which converts rotary motion of a crackshaft into smooth walking motion. The linkage used here was invented by artist Theo Jansen for his “strandbeest” creations which are usually a couple meters high and walk the beaches of the Netherlands powered by the wind. This kinetic sculpture is powered by two AAA batteries and comes with complete with display stand.

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

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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.

Kinetic Wonder Rings

Assorted colors to choose from:

From Sling True: BUY NOW: Kinetic Wonder Rings

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Kinetic Wonder Rings: a skill toy that features small rings that “roll” down a thicker steel ring while producing a distinctive ringing chatter sound as they go. Swiping the small rings gets them spinning and gives them angular momentum. Centripetal acceleration then keeps the inside of the small rings in contact with the steel ring so that they roll around as they descend (seen here in 240fps slow motion). The challenge is to rotate the large ring fast enough to keep the small rings in motion. A new take on the “Jitter Gyro Ring” 1990s skill toy craze, produced by Sling True toys.

Phenakistiscope Spinner Set

Get these amazing spinners from aPyroDesign;

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Animation Spinners

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Phénakisticope Spinner Set: two spinners- one a laser cut and printed acrylic with a set of images similar to the animation design of a flip book (but in a repeating cycle)- and the second a black disk with thin slit openings. Spin them in opposite directions and then look through the black disk at the first to reveal an animated image, in this case a running stick person. The effect looks better in person in that the frame rate of the video capture process adds some artifacts. Using the second black disk like this turns the spinners into a phenakistiscope, the 1833 invention that started moving media animation that lead to the development of movies and video. Under very bright light the animation can also be seen using a smartphone camera in video mode, but the black disk allows one to see the animation without such technology.

Specular Hologram Knot

Learn more about this art form here:
Zintaglio Arts: Holography by Matt Brand
Click here: to see other specular hologoraphy in my collectiuon.
The full details of the math in this process are described in this paper by Brand

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

Specular Hologram Knot: this complex 3D image is created by etched grooves that reflect a point source of light as glints, and each eye sees a slightly different pattern such that, via stereopsis, the shiny points appear to float above or below the surface. Complex mathematical equations must be solved to compute the shape of the thousands curves that are scratched into the surface of the metal plate. The artwork featured here is a creation of Matt Brand of Zintaglio Arts. 



Maxwell's Top

Available from my friends at Grand Illusions Ltd.: 
From Grand Illusions: BUY NOW Maxwell's Top with Spiral 

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Maxwell’s Top: a new miniature version of one of my favorite demonstrations of the strange properties of rotating bodies- based on a famous experiment by the great physicist James Clerk Maxwell. When this bell shaped brass top is spinning an interesting stability can occur- push on the stem with an object and the top will push back, forcing the stem against that object, and friction will cause the stem to roll along and trace the edge of the object. In this design the stem will trace along the edge of a metal spiral, clinging to it like a magnet- but magnets are NOT involved here. The key to this design is to make the contact point/tip of the top at its own center of mass, then any frictional force in contact with the stem will produce a torque about the contact point at right angle to the direction of friction that creates the stabilizing force (students of physics may recognize application of the right hand rule here). An extreme physics toy- beautifully designed and crafted by Kontax Engineering Ltd

Moire Kinetic Coasters

Get these well made illusions here:

from Etsy: BUY NOW: Laser Cut Wood Illusions 

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Moiré Kinetic Coasters: various patterns of overlaid curved spokes rotate and produce interesting illusions of motion via moiré interference effects. Each in this set of four coasters had a clear acrylic top upon which to place your drink, with intricate laser cut wood components underneath. The set includes a frame that couples each rotating center into cogs in a kinetic art gear train. Explore constructive and deconstructive interference patterns with this practical yet fun manipulable toy.

Galton Boards: Small and Large

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Desk Galton Board 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Display Galton Board (comes with an wonderful fact filled booklet). 

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Galton Boards Large & Small: 6000 steel balls vs. 3000 in the compact version. Each ball has a 50/50 chance of going left or right at each branch such that the balls are distributed at the bottom by the mathematical binomial distribution (12 layers for the desk version, 14 layers for the deluxe). In addition the number of balls in each bin can be predicted by Pascal’s triangle, where the number on each hexagonal branch point represents the number of possible paths to reach that point from the top. Two extraordinary designs by Philip Poissant and the best version of the Galton Board since its invention by Sir Francis Galton(1894). An amazing demonstration of the Central Limit Theorem for the home or classroom!