Physics Lamps & Lights

Lampe Kino: Polarizing Art

The amazing art of Anne-Lise King available here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Kino Lamp Polarizing Art Lights

Lampe Kino: Art from from the manipulation of polarized light. These videos showcase two designs by artist Anne-Lise King, and each design can itself be displayed in numerous ways depending on the orientation of the polarizing filter and the layering of plastic imaging sheets. Light has an orientation, denoted as polarization, and a polarizing filter can be used to block certain orientations. The colors produced here come from how the molecular structure of plastics can rotate the polarization of light that passes through- light corresponding to yellows and greens gets rotated in plastic in proportion to their frequency, red and blue frequencies only a small amount. The images here are constructed with different layers of plastic to rotate the light by differing amounts. Polarizing filters are then added to allow only certain frequencies (colors) of light through.

Lightning 2000 Plasma Lamp

This vintage device is often available on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW 
Vintage Lightning Lamp 


A similar device is available here: 
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Blue Lightning Lamp

Lightning 2000 Plasma Lamp: low pressure noble gasses glow due to discharge from high voltage. A small high frequency coil at center creates the high voltage potential between the center electrode dome and the outer glass dome 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. 

The FluoroSphere

The kit includes the UV LED base, elegant glass sphere, and enough fluorescent gel for many repeat lights shows. 

From PyroFarms: BUY NOW: FluoroSphere

From Amazon: BUY NOW: FluoroSphere

The FluoroSphere: intricate and dynamic lights shows are produced within an elegant glass sphere as fluorescent dyes in mineral oil slowly mix into room temperature water. Ultraviolet LEDs (in the base on which the sphere rests) make the dyes glow brightly and reveal the initial nondiffusive mixing structure which includes the phenomena of drops, plumes, and other features of Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities. Shown here, slightly sped up, is the first 8 minutes or so of the process which takes up to half an hour to mix evenly. The green light is characteristic of the famous fluorescein dye.

 


Spinning Arc Plasma Lighter

Get a rechargable circular plasma ignition source here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spinning Arc Lighter

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! 

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.

Fiber Optic Spray Lamp

A wide variety of similar lamps can be found on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Fiber Optic Lamps

Fiber Optic Spray Lamp: a vintage fiber optic lamp sold by RadioShack back in the 1980s. 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. Physics of internal reflection and refractive index to channel light through a fiber.


Reflection and Refraction of a Cyan Laser Pointer

Get this beautiful new color of laser pointer here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW: 488nm Laser Pointer (Cyan)

Blocks of polished acrylic available here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: clear acrylic block

Reflection and Refraction of a Cyan Laser Pointer: a new affordable wavelength laser pointer that just came on the market- 488nm producing a beautiful hue of blue. The beam is made brightly visible as internal reflection constrains most of the laser light to propagate along the interior of this block of acrylic (similar to the physics of fiber optics).

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. 


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.

Dresden Glass Bead Star Tea Light

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

From glasperlenstern.de: 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. 

Halloween Neon Glow Bulb 

Similar neon discharge glow bulbs can still be found:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs

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! 

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. 

More here: Ferrofluid Interactive Sculptures


Dancing Ferrofluid Device

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

Similar devices here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Dancing Ferrofluid Display

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 

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 eBay: 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.