Physics Lamps & Lights

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! 

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb

Old school neon type bulbs found here:

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

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

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

Holiday Specs: every point-source of light gets a holographic image overlaid: stars, snowmen, trees, candy canes, and snowflakes. Some images are even animated! — swipe to see tiny angels flutter their wings around a point of light. 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 American Paper Optics 3d with many more images available.


Diffraction Spectrum Candle

Get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Rainbow Diffraction Candle 

The spiral version can be found here:
From eBay: BUY NOW Spiral Diffraction Rainbow Candle

Diffraction Spectrum Candles: plastic diffraction gratings (of two designs) decompose the light of flames into their rainbow spectra. Swipe to see the spectra from a grid of gratings with special orientations that produce a spiral burst effect. The rainbow spectrum is produced not by refraction like that of a prism, but instead by diffraction, where light waves deconstructively and constuctively interfere. 

Moravian Star Lamp

Get a star lamp here:

BUY NOW: Herrnhut Star Lamps

Moravian Star Lamp: recently I was traveling trough Munich where I discovered this beautiful geometric holiday decoration throughout the airport (swipe for photos). The star has 26 points with the geometry of a stellated rhombicuboctahedron which produces 8 triangular points and 18 square shaped points. Also called Herrnhut Stars these decorations have been a traditional part of the holidays for more than 160 years where the first stars where constructed by a mathematics instructor at a Moravian church boarding school as part of a geometry lesson. 

Fluorescence of Lapis Lazuli 

Get a sphere and other polished samples of Lapis Lazili here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Lapis Lazuli

You will also want an awesome UV flashlight like this one:
From WayTooCool: BUY NOW: High Power UV Light (best UV products and service available)

Fluorescence of Lapis Lazuli: A polished sphere of lapis lazuli, blue with the mineral lazurite, evokes the form of a banded planet with swaths and speckles of other minerals such as calcite, pyrite, sodalite, and hauynite. The beam of a long wave UV flashlight reveals an astonishing transformation of appearance where the banding on the sphere glows bright yellow via fluorescence of the hauynite inclusions. The colorful glow comes from complex quantum mechanical behavior where molecules of some of the minerals absorb high energy UV photons and then emit this energy out in the form of lower energy photons- the physics of fluorescence. 

Dual Phosphorescence

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

Similar bowls of Mexican onyx can be found here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Stone Onyx Bowls

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

Dual Phosphorescence: this stunning “Mexican onyx” bowl is carved out of natural rock that contains phosphorescent calcite that glows in the dark after exposure to ultraviolet light. If exposed to longwave (lower energy) UV-A it glows green, but if exposed to shortwave (higher energy) UV-C it glows a ghostly blue. Phosphorescence is a quantum mechanical phenomenon where high energy UV photons are absorbed by electrons which are then boosted to higher energy levels. The glow comes from these electrons emitting lower energy photons (green or blue in this case) as they jump down through a series of energy levels back towards their ground state. These minerals also fluoresce and look strikingly different under UV illumination. 



Candle Powered Lava Lamp

This model available here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Candle Powered Lava Lamp

Candle Powered Lava Lamp: a tea-light candle provides the illumination and the heat source in this newest incarnation of the famous lamp. The base and cap are glazed ceramic and it takes about one hour for the fluid motion to begin. The Lava Lamp is a kinetic art form with an amazing amount of physics on display: convective heat flow, Archimedes principle, surface tension (note how the smaller blobs form into spheres), and immiscible liquids to name just some of the science behind this famous device. Manufactured by Mathmos and invented in 1963 by Edward Walker of Dorset, England. 

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. 

Laser Fog Light Show

Limited supply available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Laser Fog Show

Laser Fog Light Show: making the invisible visible - a rotating mirror produces a cone of laser illumination revealing the complex and beautiful patterns of nondiffusive turbulent flow as the air sodden with fog droplets mixes into the ambient air. When engaged the fog mechanism sprays puffs of droplets into the top part of the cylindrical chamber in approximately two second intervals. 

Vintage Bulb Spectra

Get this diffraction grating here: explore light source spectra! 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: 500 line/mm diffraction grating

Vintage Bulb Spectra: emission line spectra identify the gas within these two vintage discharge glow bulbs- revealed here by a 500 line/mm diffraction grating. 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.

Handheld Tesla Coil

Get this spark generator here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Handheld Tesla Coil

See other inexpensive tesla coils in my collection

Handheld Tesla Coil: each pull of the trigger discharges a large capacitor (seen through the clear window) with a loud pop and a tiny lightning bolt then streaks from the tip. In this variation of the famous air core double-tuned resonate transformer invented by Nikola Tesla in 1891, the 10 cm long sparks are made possible by a very high voltage, but are made fairly safe due to a very low current (mA)- the discharge feels like a light sting (but don’t touch the electrode- it gets hot). This battery powered version is friendly for demonstrations, such as exciting an ampule of neon gas to glow brightly during the high voltages discharges (swipe to view in slow motion). 

RGB Lightpipe Bracelet

Get a blank bracelet here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Changing RGB Bracelet

Personalized bracelets avialable here: BUY NOW: Color Changing Personalized Bracelet

Get this diffraction grating here to explore light source spectra:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: 500 line/mm diffraction grating

RGB Lightpipe Rave Bracelet: three LEDs (red, green,blue) combine to make an entire pallet of colors that are transmitted through the translucent band via internal reflection and refraction like a fiber optic cable. A diffraction grating reveals the variety of colors produced is simply a mixture of red, green, and blue (note that white = R+B+G), the same way pixels on your phone or laptop use RGB mixing to produce color images. The bracelet can be personalized and has a magnetic clasp- fun physics for your next rave! 


Viscous Flow Mixing Bulbs

Special discount for @physicsfun followers: use coupon code below! 
From EP DesignLab: BUY NOW 
EP Lights LED Bulb Art 

coupon code: PHYFUN (10% off) 

Viscous Flow Mixing Bulbs: art from mixing high viscosity fluids. Each LED bulb from EP Designlab captures a unique pattern based on the physics of laminar flow folding resulting from the mixing of viscous fluids- in this case silicone resins. When the resins cure the pattern is captured and frozen in place ready to display as illuminated by an array of 5 LEDs in the standard E26 bulb base. With this process no two bulbs are alike, and all capture intricate mixing physics.

Element 10: Neon 

Get this high quality cube here:

From ProtoshopLLC: BUY NOW: Lucite Cube Element 10 Neon

Need a mini Tesla Coil?
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Tesla Coil

Element 10, Neon: a pure sample of the famous noble gas in a glass ampule encased within a lucite cube. But how can we know that the glass tube is actually filled with neon gas? If the sample is brought near the 50,000 Volt high frequency electric field of a miniature Tesla coil, the gas will glow with the characteristic orange light from the electron energy transitions specific only to neon. Note that the glow deceases as the sample is moved away from the coil in proportion to the electric field intensity- and that there is an excitation threshold, the gas needs a higher intensity (closer to coil) to initiate the glow discharge but will still glow when moved further away.