This elegant design comes ready to assemble in your choice of four colors:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Chil Balance Bird
Chil Balance Sculpture: the mass and orientation of the wings creates a center of mass below this sleek bird's beak- making a system that will rotate and oscillate about a stable equilibrium. No magnets! An elegant sculpture by artist Bin Xu of BinDesign that comes ready to assemble complete with stand,
This vintage 1970s item available now on eBay
From eBay: BUY NOW Andrews Space Wheel
Andrew's Space Wheel: kinetic art desk toy from the 70s- the rotor will stay in motion for weeks, until the hidden 9V battery is depleted. The rotor has a magnet at the end of each spoke- a coil and circuit identical to that of the "Top Secret" mystery top that I've posted about gives these magnets a push as the rotor passes through the middle- conservation of energy and angular momentum does the rest!
Get this cube here:
from Amazon: BUY NOW: CMY Cube
CMY Color Cube: physics and psychophysics of color perception demonstrated with this acrylic art object. 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 multiple and interesting combinations of the CMY elements.
See also: the CMYK model and colorspace on Wikipedia.
There are many affordable versions of this device:
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Flow Ring
The original version is available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Toroflux
Get one and flow with it!
From Art of Play: BUY NOW
Why does it look like a bubble when moving fast? Wikipedia has the details: when the object exceeds a certain speed the flicker fusion frequency of our vision produces the bubble illusion.
The physics of the toroflux is wonderfully illustrated and explained in this article by Daniel Walsh.
Mini-Toroflux: kinetic art toy made from a single continuous loop of stainless steel band. The band of spring metal is woven such that it forms a torus that can clamp on to and roll down a stick or in this case s segment of cord. This miniature version loops through itself nine times which requires the spring ribbon to twist creating a tension such that when released the spring will pop into its minimum energy state- a flower-like torus. Amazing combination of math and kinetic art invented by Jochen Valett. Thanks to Tim Rowett for sending me this rare mini version for my collection.
Get this device (and other variations) here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Moiré Fidget Device
Moiré Kinetic Wheel: sold as a fidget toy this device has two plastic disks and each has a pattern of curved spokes that can rotate independently and produce interesting illusions of motion via moiré interference effects. Explore constructive and deconstructive interference patterns with this minimalist toy.
Sphericon and Hexa-sphericon: order your set today!
From the Matter Collection: BUY NOW The Sphericon (Hex and Regular)
Hexa-Sphericon: Sphericons are unique solids that roll in such a way that every point on their surface comes in contact with the plane. Solids from the sphericon family all have one side and two edges. Each sphericon is based on a regular polygon, with the basic sphericon derived from a square, and here- a more interesting case with more complex rolling motion- from a hexagon.
Get this beautiful 3D Print here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Kaleidocycle Fidget
Or print it yourself: Kaleidocycle print files
3D Print Kaleidocycle: this kinetic manipulation fidget toy is comprised of six hinges such that it can twist inwards continuously. Amazingly this item is 3D “printed-in-place”, which means it comes off the printer already assembled with movable links and ensures the color gradient is continuous across the joints.
This finally crated kinetic art piece avaiable here:
From Wonder Machines: BUY NOW: Slow Dance
Slow Dance: a kinetic sculpture via induced vibration and high speed strobe lighting in which objects exhibit subtle and beautiful motion when mounted within this special frame. I love how the electromagnet, with its beautiful copper windings, is prominently featured at the bottom of the frame. Electronics within the frame send AC currents to the electromagnet which then pushes and pulls magnets on each side. These magnets are affixed to leaf springs to which feathers, flowers, and other objects are attached with elastic bands. The arrangement is then illuminated by LEDs set to strobe at just the right frequency to produce the slow dance illusion.
PhiTOPs are available in Aluminum, Brass, and Copper (most conductive!):
From Etsy: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Copper
From Etsy: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Brass
From EI: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Aluminum
Click here for more on the PhiTOP and using magnetic induction to spin it up.
Tesla’s Egg of Columbus: a copper 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. Rotating magnetic fields from under the wooden platform induce electric eddy currents to flow in the copper PhiTOP- these currents then create their own magnetic field which oppose the initial fields underneath and pushes the PhiTOP to spin. This version differs from Tesla’s in that the rotating magnetic fields are created by, well, a pair of rotating neodymium magnets (revealed by lifting the top platform in this model). Credit to astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, the creator of the PhiTOP, and this unique means of using a common lab magnetic stirrer to create the induced currents. Finally, the ellipsoid top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top.
This version is very well made and shows the phenomena of spontaneous stratification better than most versions I've seen:
From Amazon: BUY NOW
Kinetic Sandscape: the phenomenon of spontaneous stratification is a striking feature of this sand motion desk toy. Typically pouring stuff together results in further mixing, yet here, when the sand mixture descends through a gap in the air bubbles, the resulting pile is ordered into sorted layers. The larger rounded dark grains separate from the smaller sharp-edged white grains forming the layers you see here. The darker grains alone would stack into a steeper pile (larger angle of repose) than the white which would form a less steep pile. The stratification process is a slow one in this device, here about 30 minutes have been condensed to the 60 second IG format.
Get this simple module here:
From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Mag Lev Kit
Electromagnetic Levitation Module: this bare bones engineered control system uses an adjustable electromagnet (the copper coil) and a Hall effect magnetic field sensor (embedded in the center of the the coil) to levitate a neodymium magnet and keep it from falling. A feedback loop informed by the Hall effect sensors allows fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity, all powered by a 12 power supply. Once trapped the magnet can also rotate, creating a nice way to display a small piece of kinetic illusion art hanging from a chain. A no frills design that shows the fairly simple circuit and components of such a levitation feedback system.
Get one here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Rainbow Twirler
Rainbow Twirler: shaped by angular momentum and centripetal acceleration- when the speed of the ribbon is faster than the flicker fusion frequency of human vision it looks like a bubble. As the rotation speed increases the shape flattens- similar to the way the Earth bulges due to its rotation. Found this fun motorized base for this item in a toy store last week.
This toy is availble from Amazon Japan and will ship to the US:
From Amazon.jp: BUY NOW: Reuleaux Rotor Wodden Toy
Reuleaux Rotor: this famous curve of constant width, the Reuleaux triangle, can rotate such that at all times it remains in contact with all four sides of a square. As demonstrated by this wooden toy from Japan, the rotor covers approximately 98.77% of the area of the square, missing only the sharp corners. The curves in the corners are in the shape of an elliptical arc. Fun fact: a Reuleaux triangle has a perimeter equal to pi times its width- just like a circle!
From Art of Play: BUY NOW : Shashibo Geometric Art
Shashibo Geometric Art: dissect a cube into 12 equal irregular tetrahedra, connect these pieces symmetrically with hinges, and add 36 magnets to create a device with more that 70 geometrically interesting and aesthetic configurations.
Find this cube and other rainbow making creations by this artist here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Niji Cubes
Niji Cube: a stunning kinetic art object constructed from acrylic and thin layers of plastic diffraction grating. Just add a white light source to produce an explosion of vivid colors with these creations by artist Minato Takeo. Here the rainbow spectrum is produced not by refraction like that of a prism, but instead by diffraction, where light waves deconstructively and constuctively interfere. A wonderful object to place on a sunny windowsill or, as in this video, to cast the beam of a flashlight through in a darkened room.
Click here to visit this amazing Etsy shop Element83
Get a magnetic levitation sculpture here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Sculptures
Eclipse diamagnetic levitation sculpture. Cast from diamagnetic Bismuth, a golden spherical neodymium magnet levitates trapped in a tunnel within the metal. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the sphere magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a powerful cube neodymium magnet sits above the tunnel and is adjusted to help lift the sphere magnet against gravity. Trapped in equilibrium by these fields, any other magnet brought near will change the balance.
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!
Many types and themes available:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Christmas Pyramids
From eBay: BUY NOW Christmas Pyramid
Holiday Pyramid: a simple heat engine- rotational motion resulting from the convection of hot air due to the candle flames of two tea lights. These holiday decorations come from a German Christmas tradition, Weihnachtspyramide, that dates back more than 200 years! Energy transfer: chemical bonds to heat to kinetic energy of the rising air to rotational kinetic energy of the turbine and reindeer.