Physics Lamps & Lights

Levitating Mini Moon Lamp

Get this fun lamp here (comes with both Mini-Moon and silver sphere magnet):

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Levitation Lamp

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

Levitating Mini Moon Lamp: tapping the floating illuminated Moon turns this LED lamp off and on in this strange design. The Moon with embedded 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 on the tiny Moon.


Fluorescein v. Laser Frequency

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

Make you own fluorescent solution with this powder: 
From STEMCell Science: BUY NOW: Fluorescein Powder

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

Fluorescein v. Laser Frequency: exploring how this famous fluorescent dye reacts to three frequencies of laser pointer using this unique liquid filled paperweight. Under Green (532 nm) we see some mild yellow fluorescence as the beam transmits through the liquid, under Red (635 nm) the beam transmits with no reaction, but under near UV Blue (450 nm) the beam is completely absorbed near the liquid surface and re-emitted in bright green with a peak at 515nm. A fun home experiment to explore quantum physics phenomena with inexpensive apparatus.

Lithophane 3D Printed Moon

Get this beautiful night light here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Lithophane Moom Lamp

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

Lithophane 3D Print Moon: a night light lamp with a strikingly detailed image of the lunar surface- but made only of white plastic. The lithophane technique goes back to the 1820s and produces gray tone images by shining light through a translucent substance, initially porcelain, or like this example, plastic. Regions where the plastic is thick absorb the light and appear dark gray, thinner regions look light gray. 3D printing allows a new method for producing this art form with amazing detail.

Electric Discharge Fractal

These amazing fractal scuptures available now in many styles each with LED base:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Lightning Fractal Sculpture 

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Lightning Fractal Sculpture

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

Electric Discharge Fractal: the delicate branching structure seen here is a Lichtenberg type fractal created by electron current flow. An interesting aspect of this piece is that the acrylic was filled with electrons in two separate regions, resulting in this two layer pattern when the acrylic was discharged to ground with a flash and bang. Electrons typically will not flow through an insulator such as acrylic, but a high velocity beam of them from a linear accelerator (an expensive and complex apparatus) 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 sculpture comes with an LED base which illuminates the fractal with morphing colors. 


Aurora Laser Projector

This affordable triple Laser show device available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Aurora Laser Show Projector

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

Aurora Laser Projector: red, green, and blue laser elements are refracted through a rotating optical element with lumpy surface features which create this amazing aurora/nebula effect. When light rays refract through a curved surface they concentrate into bright patches called caustics, often with cusp singularities (sharp points) and intricate threads of shadow.Click here to see a cyan laser pointer interact with the caustic projection optical element removed from this device.

Caustic Projection Optical Element

This optical element is a component of this affordable Laser show device:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Aurora Laser Show Projector

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

Caustic Projection Optical Element: the intricate geometries of light due to refraction through various curved surfaces of transparent plastic. A 488 nm cyan laser pointer is refracted through an optical element with lumpy surface features which create this aurora/nebula effect. When light rays refract through a curved surface they concentrate into bright patches called caustics, often with cusp singularities (sharp points) and intricate threads of shadow. 

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

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

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.


Dancing Ferrofluid Device

Available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Venom Sound Dancing Ferrofluid Display

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

Dancing Ferrofluid: a black magnetic fluid interacts with a variable strength electromagnet (like those found in speakers). A circuit supplies power to the electromagnet in proportion to the sound waves picked up by a microphone, the changing magnetic field- combined with the liquid surface tension of the colloidal ferromagnetic liquid- produces the captivating motion that keeps time with any music played. Featuring “12 String Thing”, composed and performed by my good friend T.D.Clark @tdclark67 

Levitation Lamp 

Get this fun lamp here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Levitation Lamp

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

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. 


Spinning Arc Plasma Lighter

Get a rechargable circular plasma ignition source here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spinning Arc Lighter

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

Plasma Arc Lighter Physics: a rotating arc of plasma exceeds 1100 C (2000 F) on this flameless lighter. The breakdown voltage of air is about 3000 Volts per mm. Thus the circuit in the lighter must provide about 12,000 volts to produce this 4mm arc. The circuit involves a transformer with very fine wire windings, a transistor, and a powerful lithium-ion battery (USB rechargeable). The circuit produces high frequency current oscillations in the coils that in turn produce the needed high voltage- basically a Tesla coil for your pocket! 

Purple Plasma Globe

Similar purple globes available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Colored Plasma Globes

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Purple Plasma Globe: sold as licensed Rick and Morty merchandise this globe features a glow plasma discharge that is mostly in the violet frequencies giving this device an interesting overall purple hue (probably due to argon gas in the mix). A small high frequency coil at center of these globes creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode and the metal coated glass globe. Current then flows through the thin gas, exciting the electrons in the gas molecules, producing the colorful emission spectra that emanates from the plasma tendrils.


Holiday Specs Holographic Glasses

Get these designs and many more here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Holiday Specs Holographic Glasses (full set)
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Holiday Specs Holographic Glasses

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

Get the tree and lights here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Tree Decoration, Set of LED lights

Holiday Specs: ‘tis the season to put up the tree and break out the hologram glasses! With them on every point source of light gets a holographic image overlaid: stars, snowmen, trees, candy canes, and snowflakes. The “lenses” in these glasses are actually transmission holograms but with the image located at the farthest point in the depth of field. Made by @americanpaperoptics3d with many more images available. 

Halloween Neon Glow Bulb 

Similar neon discharge glow bulbs can still be found:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs

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

Halloween Neon Glow Bulb: the pumpkins, with a high voltage between them, glow orange with light from the emission spectrum of the excited neon atoms of the low pressure gas within the bulb. The ghost glows from a coating of phosphor which is stimulated to emit green light by ultraviolet (and invisible) photons. Excited neon atoms emit photons both in the visible (mostly orange and yellow wavelengths), and also in the UV wavelengths, and these ultraviolet photons are absorbed by the phosphorescent coating on the ghost plate which then emit the absorbed energy as green light. Amazing physics in a light bulb! 

The PhoTOP

Get a PhoTOP from these fine vendors (comes with laser pointer!):

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhoTOP 

Another amazing spinning device by Prof. Ken Brecher! Get his other spinning tops here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: PhiTOP, PiTOP, eTOP, iTOP, DeltaCELT

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

The PhoTOP: phosphorescent glow illuminates the intricate path of a 405nm laser pointer beam on a balanced spinning disk. Let the disk set alone for a few minutes to allow the traces to fade- and repeat again and again to experiment making new patterns.