Physics Lamps & Lights

Lava Lightning Lamp

Similar itmes available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW: Lighting Plasma Lamps

Lava Lightning Lamp: low pressure noble gasses glow due to discharge from high voltage and stimulate colored phosphors to emit yellow, blue, and red in this vintage device by Lava. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the outer glass casing which is coated with a thin transparent film of metal. Current flow through the thin gas produces the glowing zigzagged path like that of lightning but more rounded. Shown here in 240 fps slow motion. Another of my vintage plasma lamps in my collection. 

RGB Color Addition

These Light Blox are available in this nice kit from Laser Classroom, a science education supplier: 
From Laser Classroom: Light, Color and Shadow Kit 

Wikipedia has a fantastic introduction on the topic of RGB Color Theory 

RGB Color Addition: three LED light boxes demonstrate the additive nature of colored light. Mixing Red, Green, and Blue to create Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan. An object casts shadows showing the following mixings: R+G=Y, G+B=C, and R+B=M. Adding all three R+G+B produces White (a little pinkish here as the Red is a little bit bright for complete white balance). RGB color addition is the basis for all computer and TV displays- all the colors you are looking at right now on your screen are made from adding pixels of R G and B in different proportions and intensities!


Bright Mineral Fluorescence

Nice specimens can be found here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Fluorescent Mineral Specimens

The floursecne can only be achived using short wave UV lamps whace can be expensive. Less expensive used and vintage devices are often found here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Short Wave UV Lamps

Bright Mineral Fluorescence: under short wave ultraviolet light Willemite fluoresces bright green and Calcite (with trace percent Manganese activator) glows orange-pink in this spectacular specimen from the Sterling Hill zinc mine out of New Jersey. The brilliant colors of fluorescence seen here come from exposing the rock to short wave UV (less than 280nm) using a vintage Mineralight brand light. 

 

KaleidoFlow Fluid Display Cell: The Glorb

KaleidoFlow fluid and associated devices available here:

From Laminar Sciences Corp: BUY NOW: KaleidoFlow Rheoscopic Fluid

KaleidoFlow Fluid Cell: the phenomenon of streaming birefringence colorfully reveals the temporary sheer stresses induced in a liquid by a moving plastic sphere. The “Glorb” device design features a cylindrical cell with polarizing filters as the top and bottom windows and filled with this special rheoscopic fluid and a plastic bead. This assembly then slides into a base with white LEDs to supply backlighting. Many thanks to Laminar Sciences Corp for supplying this beautiful display cell and bottles of KaleidoFlow fluid for experimentation.

Slow Dance

This finally crated kinetic art piece avaiable here: 

From Wonder Machines: BUY NOW: Slow Dance

From Art of Play: 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.


Ferrofluid Interactive Lava Lamp

Available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Ferrofluid Lava Lamp

Ferrofluid Interactive Lava Lamp: special ferrofluid infused wax allows manipulation of the blobs of “lava” with a weak magnet, adding an interactive element to the already mesmerizing physics of convective heat flow, Archimedes principle, and immiscible liquids. Love the atomic rocket theme on this updated version of the 1960s classic physics toy. 

Star Wars Mouse Ears

Get a set of high tech ears here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW Star Wars Mickey Ears

From eBay: BUY NOW Star Wars Mickey Ears

Mickey Mouse Physics: the Millennium Falcon battles TIE fighters in a three panel animation printed on layers of optical acrylic. Red, green, and blue LEDs switch on and off lighting the layers sequentially in a loop producing the animated scene from Star Wars. Light from the LED attached to a specific layer undergoes multiple internal reflections as it passes through the clear plastic illuminating mostly that layer- the same principle employed in fiber optic cables. Disney + Lucasfilm = mouse ears of the future! 

Celestial Sphere: the Stars of the Night Sky

Created by Clemens & Christoph of CinkS labs: Available in a cube too! 
From CinkS Labs: BUY NOW: Celestial Spheres

Celestial Sphere: the positions of 5068 stars as they appear in the night sky- along with 88 constellations, laser etched into a crystal sphere. This globe includes all stars of sixth magnitude or brighter- basically all the stars that the average and unaided human eye can see in the sky. The Milky Way in a Sphere: the distribution of stars in our home galaxy, laser etched into a crystal sphere, according to the most recent telescopic surveys and mappings- including the stars in the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (a small galaxy that is simultaneously orbiting and getting absorbed into the Milky Way) and the major globular clusters outside the main disk


Neon Plasma Glass

Each glass is unique and comes with tesla coil base:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Glass by TeslaCoilPro

Neon Plasma Glass: these double walled glass mugs glow orange and blue from the excitation spectrum of neon gas at low pressure. The base contains a high frequency transformer (Tesla coil) that generates high voltage electric fields (but at very low current) from USB rechargeable batteries- which excites the neon to glow, and also serves as a coaster. The inner volume varies in thickness which leads to variations in heat and pressure which in turn produces different excitations (orange and blue) of the neon gas in patterns that dance and dazzle the eye. Stunningly beautiful kinetic art and tech by creator Zerg Dragonymous.

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb

Got this bulb at my local Target Store in the seasonal Halloween section. Similar bulbs available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Flicker Flame Skull Bulbs 

and these old fashion flicker bulbs look great with the diffration glasses:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Flicker Flame Neon Bulb 

The diffraction effect glasses used here is this kind: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Diffraction Glasses

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb: no flame but instead emission spectra from excited neon gas due to the presence of a discharge electric current. The breakdown voltage of a gas (the minimum voltage needed for a current to flow) depends on the pressure of the gas in the bulb. The flickering effect comes about because the current flow will increase the temperature near it, which raises the pressure and affects the breakdown voltage near the current- so the glow from one area can only last as long as it takes to heat up and raise the breakdown voltage which kills the current in that area. In other physics, a diffraction grating shows that neon only emits light in specific wavelengths- mostly reds and yellows at AC house voltages. ?

Frozen Lightning Lamp

Quality lightning figures are available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Lightning Lichtenberg Sculpture

Frozen Lightning Lamp: a Lichtenberg fractal created by electron discharge from a charged acrylic insulator. A piece of nonconducting acrylic is filled with electrons using a linear accelerator and then discharged to ground with a flash and bang- the figure is the permanent result. Electrons typically will not flow through an insulator, but a high velocity beam of them from a linear accelerator allows the electrons to tunnel deep into the plastic and build up a very large charge slowly. Such a large charge can then create a high enough voltage to create a breakdown arc which is hot enough to leave the fractal pattern. This piece is part of the Captured Lightning Sculptures series by Stoneridge Engineering LLC. 


Rolling Ball Fountain

Find this and similar fountains here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Rolling Ball Fountain

Rolling Ball Fountain: this miniature kugel fountain features a glass sphere that sits on a socket of precisely similar shape, and is suspended on a very thin (less than half a mm) film of moving water which greatly reduces friction. The velocity of the water in the thin layer slows as it spreads out via a hole in the socket, and this hole is offset from the center so that the interaction with the water stream sets the ball spinning. A small pump provides the flow rate, and colorful LEDs illuminate the glass sphere to show off the rotation. Perhaps you’ve seen public art installations featuring giant granite spheres weighing tons and yet similarly suspended on a thin layer of flowing water. Physics principles involved here include viscosity and Reynold’s number, the Navier-Stokes equation, Bernoulli’s principle and the study of thin layer lubricants.

Emission Spectra Gases on Radial Mount

I made the display holder and I got this set of gas tubes here (about $9 per tube): 
From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Gas Pure Element Samples 

From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Tesla Coil
For the price, this is the best one on the market- and beautiful to look at in copper- and it comes with three accessories for the top. Please be sure to employ all appropriate safety precautions when utilizing any electrical circuity!

The mount is made by driling holes in this acrylic tube: 4" Acrylic Tube

The breakdown voltages of the elements featured in this post are described by Paschen's Law: 
 
Here is a excellent article with an overview of the physics of glow discharge and its application in lighting and other technologies. 

Click this link to see the mini Tesla coil in action

Emission Spectra Gas Samples: pure samples of hydrogen, nitrogen and five noble gasses are subjected to the high frequency pulsed field of a miniature Tesla coil. Each gas has a characteristic breakdown voltage and emission spectrum- note that Nitrogen has the highest breakdown voltage and begins to glow after the presence of my hand temporarily lowers the resistance to current flow for that tube. The color of each gas is due to a mix of the colors emitted from electron energy transitions specific to each element- the basis of spectroscopy. Notice also that the purple color of the brush discharge at the top of the Tesla coil matches closely to the color of the nitrogen sample, which makes sense as air is 78% nitrogen. 

Neon Plasma Glassware

Sold individually, or as a set, here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Plasma Glassware and Excitation Base

Neon Plasma Glassware: serve up a platter of plasma! These double walled glass mugs glow orange and blue from the excitation spectrum of neon gas at low pressure. The base contains a high frequency transformer (Tesla coil) that generates high voltage electric fields (but at very low current) which excites the neon to glow, and also serves as a display platter. The inner volume of each glass varies in thickness which leads to variations in heat and pressure which in turn produces different excitations (orange and blue) of the neon gas in patterns that dance and dazzle the eye. An upcoming video will show these filled with beverages. Stunningly beautiful kinetic art and tech by creator Zerg Dragonymous. 


The Levimoon

Get a levitating moon globe lamp here! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Levitating Moon Globe Lamp

The Levimoon: this detailed moon globe is an adjustable lamp that levitates! Charged through wireless induction via the base, the moon floats above the Earth while illuminated from the inside to reveal the major features of the lunar surface, and will rotate when given a slight push. This kind of levitation uses a control system with an adjustable electromagnet in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allows for fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity. 

Levitating Inq Lamp

Get a Curiority Box subscription here:
From curiositybox.com: JOIN NOW: The Curiosity Box

Get a squish Inq the Octopus here:
BUY NOW: Squish Inq 

Similar lamps available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Heng Balance Lamp 

Modify a lamp to levitate a heavier onject:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neodymium Super Magnet

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.