10 Hex Puzzle: this puzzle is comprised of pieces which are the set of all ways three and four hexagons can be joined with a common edge. There are 3 trihexs and 7 possible tetrahexs, and similar to pentominoes, these 10 polyhexs can assemble into a large hexagon. Amazingly there are exactly 12,290 solutions to this puzzle- but it’s still a challenge to find just one!
Another version of this puzzle available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Two Marble Puzzle
Two Marble Puzzle: physics brain teaser- move both marbles to their top locations on each side simultaneously. The solution to this puzzle relies on some fun basic physics principles- can you figure out which ones? Swipe to reveal solution. Found this well made version of this classic physics puzzle at a gift shop in San Francisco (note Golden Gate Bridge motif).
Sphericon and Hexa-sphericon: beautiful works of art in metal- available here!
From the Matter Collection: BUY NOW The Sphericon (Hex and Regular)
3D printed as well as handmade sphericons and similar shapes avaiable here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Sphericons
Hexa-Sphericon: Sphericons are unique solids that roll in such a way that every point on their surface comes in contact with the plane- following the path shown here with white paper. Solids from the sphericon family all have one side and two edges. Each sphericon is based on a regular polygon, with the basic sphericon derived from a square, and here- a more interesting case with more complex rolling motion- from a hexagon.
Similar mood jewelry available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Liquid crystal jewelry
Thermochromic Liquid Crystal “Mood” Necklace: heat from a hand brings out the temperature dependent color change of the liquid crystal. The molecules of the liquid crystal change orientation and spacing during the phase transition from liquid (warm) to crystal (cool). The molecular configuration shift allows for different diffraction effects producing the color shift.
Professor Brecher has a limited supply of these "golden" (brass) versions of this top available on Etsy
From Etsy: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Brass
Aluminum version available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW phiTOP
The ΦTop - Golden Version: spinning things have surprising physics! This unique top is made of solid brass in the shape of a prolate elIipsoid- and the name of the top is derived from the following design requirement: the ratio of the semi minor (short) axis to the semi major (long) axis is made equal to the mathematical constant the golden ratio φ (phi). Invented by astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, this top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. The concave mirror keeps the top from wandering off and the glass surface has minimal friction allowing the top to spin for a long time- this video shows various stages of 8 minutes of total spin time.
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.
Eclipse diamagnetic levitation sculpture. Cast from diamagnetic Bismuth, a golden spherical neodymium magnet levitates trapped in a tunnel within the metal. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the sphere magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a powerful cube neodymium magnet sits above the tunnel and is adjusted to help lift the sphere magnet against gravity. Trapped in equilibrium by these fields, any other magnet brought near will change the balance.
This single tube version is an affordable alternative to showcase the vintage aesthetic of the Nixie neon glow:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Single Tube Nixie Clock Base (buy the tube in the next link)
From eBay: BUY NOW: IN14 Nixie Tube
Get the diffraction grating here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Diffraction Grating
Get a beautifully made full four digit clock here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Nixie Tube Clocks
Single Tube Nixie Clock: This minimalist clock uses a standard 5V USB connection and modern electronics to power a single Russian made ИH-14A Nixie tube- here the display shows the time 12:36 flashed in sequence. Long before there were 7 segment LED displays there was the Nixie- cold cathode tubes with a wire mesh and 10 cathodes shaped in the form of numerals 0-9 that illuminate through neon glow discharge at 170Volts. A diffraction grating reveals the brightest emission lines of the neon spectrum including: violet, green, bright yellow, and a bunch of orange/red lines characteristic of this noble has. The “Numeric Indicator eXperimental 1” or NIX 1 was introduced in 1955 by Burroughs Corporation and manufactured until the 1990s.
The Rhoma Cube is a vintage item and can sometimes be found on eBay:
From eBay: Search NOW: Rhoma and Soma Puzzles
Soma Cubes are available in a wide viariety:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Soma Cube
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Soma Cube
SOMA and RHOMA Puzzles: Replace every cube in the Soma puzzle with a rhombohedron to create the Rhoma puzzle- where the seven slanted pieces now make a larger rhombohedron. Here I’ve painted the corresponding Soma and Rhoma pieces to match on these sister puzzles that share identical edge lengths. While there are 240 ways to make the larger cube from the 7 Soma pieces, there is only one solution for the 7 Rhoma pieces. The original Soma Cube is a math toy has an interesting connection to physics- invented by Danish scientist and artist Piet Hein who claimed that this puzzle idea came to him as he was listening to a lecture on Quantum Mechanics by Werner Heisenberg in 1933. The seven pieces are all the ways 3 or 4 cubes can be joined, such that each piece has at least one inside corner.
These vintage watches are not too hard to find:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Borel Cocktail Watches
From eBay: BUY NOW: Borel Cocktail Watches
Moire Kinetic Watch: this beautiful timepiece is an Ernest Borel Cocktail pendant watch made in 1958 featuring the trademark rotating disk (instead of a second hand) which creates a kinetic radiant Moiré pattern. This vintage 17 jewel Swiss watch is old school- powered by a spring that must be wound once a day (elastic potential energy to kinetic).
These prescision kaleidoscopes are crafted from front surface mirrors and other specialty materials, many with innovative desgin and construction techiques:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Kaleidoscopes by Marc Tickle
Tapered Mirror Kaleidoscope: hidden within this colorful tube are 3 mirrors, 2 rolling glass spheres, and 1 dichroic glass reflector. These elements combine to produce the dynamic and magical images seen through the view window as the device is slightly tilted back and forth and brought in and out of a bright light source. This unique teleidoscope design “Disco Dandelion” is but one of many creations by artist Marc Tickle. Invented by the famous Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), the kaleidoscope is an ultimate physics toy and entire field of artistic endeavor.