Vintage (1970s) Kalliroscopes are sometimes available here:
From eBay: Search NOW Kalliroscopes
Click this link: for the best Kalliroscope currently in production and available.
Vortices in a Kalliroscope: rheoscopic fluid reveals the intricate and beautiful turbulence induced in an enclosed fluid by rotation of the container. The initial acceleration of the fluid during initial spin-up is shown here in 240fps slow motion. Invented and produced by artist and inventor Paul Matisse in the 1970s, suspended microscopic flat crystals of guanine reflect light and allow visualization of the fluid's motion. This rheoscopic fluid is special in that the guanine crystals are the same density as the tetrachloroethylene liquid so the crystals never settle to the bottom making the fluid reactive to showing the slightest movement.
Bismuth levitation available here:
From Etsy- Element 83: BUY NOW Magnetic Levitation Sculptures
featuring amazing Bismuth Crystals, Jewelry, and Maglev Kinetic Art
Circa 1981, Physicists transmute Bismuth to Gold: Particle accelerators make possible the ancient alchemist’s dream—but at a steep cost
The Alchemist: cast from diamagnetic Bismuth, a neodymium cube magnet levitates trapped between the hands of the ancient scholar. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the cube shaped magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a cylindrical neodymium magnet hangs above the figure and is adjusted to help lift the cube magnet against gravity. Trapped in equilibrium by these magnetic fields, the slightest air currents can send the cube magnet dancing. Although alchemists never succeeded in transmuting lead to gold, in 1981 physicists used the particle accelerator at Berkeley to shoot Carbon nuclei at thin foils of Bismuth- the resulting collisions did produced a tiny amount of Gold atoms! So modern nuclear physics, applied to the element Bismuth, finally accomplished the aspirations of the alchemists. ?Another amazing creation by Ernie McElhannon.
This vitage device urrently available on eBay, and similar mirror illusion banks:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Mirror Illusion Bank
Mirror Illusion Spacecraft Bank: Symmetry + Reflection = Illusion. Deposit a coin (which seems to vanish) and a spacecraft of some sort states to revolve within a silver ring seemingly suspended in space. The symmetry of the ring and craft allows a half of these objects to appear as a whole, and a AA battery powers a motor which drives gears to slowly spin the portion of the mirror inside the ring (with the spacecraft attached). The best version of the mirror illusion box I’ve seen.
Get the 3D print files here:
From Thingverse: Make Now: Single String Tensegrity
Click here for more tengerity in my collection.
Single Strand Tensegrity: a vertical chain- when held under tension a single length of thin chain can become a rigid support structure. In this design four 3D-printed struts each act like an archer’s bow to stretch the chain under tension. Beads placed on the chain interlock with the ends of the struts. Design and .stl files by Ernie Condone and printed by Roger Key (thanks!)
Get these and other amazing developable rollers here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Hexacon and Sphericon Rollers
Hexacon Roller: beautiful 3D printed versions of a recent mathematical discovery of new developable rollers (objects that roll where every point on the roller’s surface comes into contact with the plane upon which it rolls). Similar to the sphericon (based on a square) the hexacon rolls in a straight line with a peculiar wobble motion but has a hexagonal cross section (swipe to see video loop of each in motion). The hexacon (2019) and sphericon (1980) are two of a family of such rollers called polycons discovered by David Hirsch, and described in a paper by Hirsch and Seaton published in 2020.
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!
Get this display (Tesla Coil included!) here:
From Engineered Labs: BUY NOW: Noble Gas Display
See also this amazing Periodic Table of the Elements
Glowing Noble Gas Collection: five noble gasses are subjected to the high frequency electric field of a miniature Tesla coil. Encased in acrylic and carefully labeled, this spectacular display collection is the creative work of Tim and Cory Marriott of Engineered Labs Protoshop LLC- and each display comes with this Tesla coil! The high frequency/high voltage field of the coil transmits energy through the thick acrylic to excite the atoms of these gases, revealing the unique color of each gas, which is actually due to a mix of photon frequencies emitted from electron energy transitions specific to each element- the basis of spectroscopy.
This vintage item sometimes found here:
From eBay: Search NOW: Flicker Flame Toy
From Etsy: Search NOW: Flicker Flame Toy
See also my other lenticular physics toys.
Lenticular Flame Kinetic Art: “cool candle” whimsical acrylic kinetic sculpture inspired by a vintage lenticular flicker toy from the 1970s. These flicker images are produced by tiny cylindrical lens arrayed in such a way that allows for multiple images to show depending on the angle of view.
Get a similar, and very well made, chaotic pendulum here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Double Chaotic Pendulum
Double Pendulum: chaotic motion from a simple assembly of two physical pendulums (one attached to the end of the other) with the energy of the system moving frenetically back and forth between the potential energy of gravity to the kinetic energy of motion. An LED light attached to the end of the pendulum allows for a good visualization of the chaotic motion- characterized by extreme sensitivity to initial starting conditions, how tiny differences in how the system is released leads to dramatically different outcomes each time.
Get a set here:
From eBay: BUY NOW Tornado Spheres
Get a concave mirror like the one in the video for less than $3 here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Concave Mirror
And get a set of inexpensive colored lights here:
From eBay: BUY NOW Color LED lights
Tornado Spheres: two ball bearings welded together can be made to spin up to 2000+ rpm by the Magnus Effect using a stream of air. Shining three colored LEDs on the spinning pair produces an illusion of floating rings along with a second illusion that these rings are rotating and changing direction due to aliasing with the frame rate of the video camera (like the famous wagon-wheel effect).
Get this cube here:
from Amazon: BUY NOW: CMY Cube
get the display stand here:
from Amazon: BUY NOW: Caliper Display
from Etsy: BUY NOW: Caliper Display
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.
Get (or give!) a Curiosity Box subscription here: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box
I love VSauce!
The famous YouTube team puts together 4 boxes of "brain food" each year with fantastic and surprising stuff in each- and a great way to start a science toy collection!
Get a squish Inq the Octopus here: BUY NOW: Squish Inq or check out Inq's Shop
Levitating Inq Lamp: Inq (the curious orange octopus) hangs illuminated and suspended by magnetic forces. I modified this lamp to incorporate the squish version of the @thecuriositybox mascot with a powerful neodymium magnet on top and a smaller magnet embedded with in Inq’s head- when the octopus is floating the bottom cord engages the light switch.
Get a globe and glow wand here:
From Aurora Plasma Designs: BUY NOW: Globes and Glow Wands
Click here for other amazing: Glow Discharge Designs
Tricolor Plasma Globe and Glow Wand: an engineered mix of low pressure noble gasses exhibit three colors of glow discharge in the plasma filaments that rise upward due to heating. A separate glass wand has a different gas mixture and phosphor coated beads that glow when in contact with the globe. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the metal coated glass globe. Current flow through the thin gas produces the colorful emission spectra from the gasses.
The Pisces Lamp is now avaialbel for purchase here:
BUY NOW: Pisces Kinetic Art Lamp
From the same artist who created the Aquarius Fountian Lamp
Pisces Kinetic Art Lamp: standing waves of a rotating string are illuminated by strobing light in this new kinetic sculpture by artist and computer engineer Stephen Co. With the help of programmable micro-controllers, strips of addressable RBG LEDs are made to flash in sequences that make the rotating string change colors, merge into spoon shaped surfaces, or split into multiple braids. The string is propelled by small motors and the standing waves can have multiple nodes, which can be altered by touching the string while in motion.
Available for all the planets and several versions of Earth:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mova Globes: all types
From Amazon: BUY NOW Mova Globes: Jupiter
From eBay: BUY NOW Mova Globes: all types
From movaglobes.com: BUY NOW Mova Globe: Jupiter
Jupiter Globe by Mova: rotating counterweighted globe sealed within a clear liquid filled acrylic sphere. The rotation is powered by light that shines through the semi-transparent Jupiter globe on to solar cells within the globe which drive a motor. But what does the motor push against to maintain the rotation? Believe it or not it uses magnets to push against the Earth's magnetic field like a compass needle. Wonderful physics of all kinds in the design of this clever device.
Get the full version (8 disks made of wood) or the mini (6 disks, blue or red plastic):
From Amazon: BUY NOW TrueBalance Coordination Puzzle
TrueBalance: coordination challenge puzzle- get the six disks, connected by bearing swivels, into a vertical stack by only tilting the handle. Harder than it looks to get each disk’s center of mass above the one below at the same time into the unstable equilibrium final state. The swivels constrain the system, limiting the degrees of freedom, and allowing strange and interesting motion. Kinetic art as a toy!