Physics Lamps & Lights

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Fiber Optic Galaxy Lamp

These lamps can often be found on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Fiber Optic Lamps

Fiber Optic Galaxy Lamp: a vintage 1970s fiber optic lamp with a chrome “UFO” base. Note the beautiful spherical symmetry of the fiber spray- they don’t make them like this anymore! The fiber bundle is illuminated by a lamp in the base and the color shifting patterns are generated by a rotating color wheel placed between the light source and the fiber optic bundle. Fun physics at a thrift store price.

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! 

Levitation Lamp 

Get this fun lamp here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Levitation Lamp

Levitation Lamp: tapping the floating spherical magnet turns this LED lamp off and on in this interesting design. The magnet floats a couple centimeters from the surface of the base when plugged in, and feels springy to the touch. Within the base is a control system with adjustable electromagnet coils in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allow for fine tuning of a magnetic field to precisely balance the pull of gravity. 

Fresnel Minor Lamp

See the gallery of work by the artist: 
Art Gallery: inquire about availability 
Sean Agustine March

Fresnel Minor Lamp: Microlayers of metals and metal oxides allow a slab of glass to transmit a different color than it reflects through thin-film optical phenomena such as interference and selective absorption. In this remarkable art piece, dichroic glass is combined with infinity mirror type multiple reflections creating this dazzling display of physics! Special thanks to @seanaugustinemarch for this amazing addition to my collection.

Shadow Stereographic Projection

These mathematical art objects are created by Henry Segerman and are available here: 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Mathematical Art 

US Flag projection can be obtain here (Support MoMATH!);
From MoMATH: BUY NOW: US Flag Stereo Projection

Wikipedia has a nice introduction to the math and applications of stereographic projection

Shadow Stereographic Projection: 3D printed sculptures that cast geometric shadows. When illuminated by a point source of light (placed at the top pole of the sphere) the shadow cast by the rays of light represent a one to one mapping of the points on the sphere to points on the plane- creating 1) the US Flag, 2) a honeycomb of regular hexagons, and 3) a square grid. Stereographic projection is often used in representing the geography of the globe of our planet on to a flat map. Mathematical art by Henry Segerman.

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.

Dresden Glass Bead Star Tea Light

These gometirc candle holders are available from the artist's store here:

From BUY NOW: Glass Bead Star Tea Light

Dresden Glass Bead Star: concentric designs of spherical glass beads produce geometric symmetries of shadow and refracted light from a tea light candle which serves as a point source of illumination. This “Glasperlen Stern” candle holder is one of many configurations offered from Dresden artist Andreas Schildhauer, each with glass set into porcelain from Freiberg.

Pharaoh Hollow Mask Illusion

Similar vintage items are often found on eBay: 
From eBay: Search NOW Hollow Mask Illusion Lamp 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Hollow Mask Illusion Lamp
Also available: Einstein! 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Einstein Illusion 

Wikipedia has the details on the Hollow Mask Illusion 

Pharaoh Hollow Mask Illusion: this ceramic lamp features a concave image lighted from the bottom, which appears as a regular convex image via this vintage version of the hollow face illusion. An amazing feature of such an inverted image mask is that King Tut appears animated, and seems to always be looking in the direction of the viewer. Spooky physics and psychophysics for Halloween! 

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 480 fps slow motion. Another of my vintage plasma lamps in my collection. 

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Vintage VFD Tube Clock

Fully assembeld high quality clocks available here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: VFD Tube Clock

Vintage VFD Tube Clock: before seven segment LEDs there were Vacuum Fluorescent Display tubes in which zinc oxide coatings emit green light when bombarded by electrons under high vacuum. A phosphor coated anode segment only illuminates if it and the grid (seen in close up) are both energized at positive potential. This clock features an eight digit IV-18 display tube manufactured in the 1990s and cofigured to power up via a USB cable - old tech meets modern electronics in an elegant acrylic case. 

Phosphorescence and Fluorescence in Calcite

The UVA and UVC lamps used in this video are available here (well made and reasonably priced professional tools):
From WayTooCool LLC: BUY NOW: UV Lamps

Get a calcite crystal sample here (those with a slight pink color will exhibit the glow): 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 
From eBay: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal

Phosphorescence and Fluorescence in Calcite: a ghostly blue afterglow is induced by a short wave UVC ultraviolet lamp. The high energy UVC photons interact with electrons in the crystal trapping them in a temporary quantum state with a decay half-life of 7.2 milliseconds, each then emit a blue photon when returning to their ground state- the phenomenon of phosphorescence. However a pink/orange instantaneous glow is produced by a long wave UVA lamp/flashlight (swipe to see). These medium energy UVA photos from the flashlight interact with electrons in different orbitals that de-excite through the emission of orange 595nm photons. See my previous post for more amazing calcite crystal physics.

Natural Mineral Fluorescence 

Get ruby in matrix stones and jewelry here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Ruby Glow Stones

and find the sodalite bright orange fluorescent syenite here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Orange Glow Stones

You will also want an awesome UV flashlight like this one:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: High Power UV Light

Natural Mineral Fluorescence: Four mineral specimens that emit a surprising bright glow under long wave ultraviolet light (from left to right): a clear calcite crystal glows pink, a carved obelisk of grey syenite with grains of sodalite(bright orange), a carved piece of green fuchsite with red ruby inclusions(red glow) and veins of white calcite(bright white), and a polished slab of lapis lazuli with speckles of the mineral hauynite (yellow glow). The colorful glow comes from complex quantum mechanical behavior where high energy UV photons are absorbed and then lower energy photons are emitted- the physics of fluorescence.

Magnifying Glass Hologram

Similar vintage holograms are currently available on eBay in limited quantities: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Photopolymer True Hologram

Magnifying Glass Hologram: this photopolymer hologram is so realistic one can look at the circuit board through, or around, the lens in this 1980s reflective hologram. Unlike photographs, holograms are recordings of the interference pattern of light waves, and incredibly what you see is created by information encoded in a layer thinner than a piece of paper! This interference pattern can encode the entire 3D light field, which can present the original object in amazing detail, including how the light was bending through a lens, when illumination by a point source of light and viewed from an appropriate angle. A favorite hologram in my collection.

Diffractive Optical Element

Amazing application of high resolution far field holograms. The only available source I know of for projection holograms at this high resolution is this supplier of industrial samples 
From Diffractive Optical Element Sample 

Need a laser pointer? Incredibly, you can get 3 (one of each color) for under $20 (including S&H): 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Red+Green+Purple Laser Pointer

Diffractive Optical Element: images produced by constructive and deconstructive interference of coherent laser light. The patches of microstructure on the surface of this transparent plastic are far field holograms- transmission holograms, but with the image at infinity. Side by side images from two different laser wavelengths (red 635 nm, green 520 nm) shows clearly the red image is larger than the green since diffraction angle is proportional the wavelength. So much physics here!