Well engineered brass spinning toys by SiriusEnigmas
From Etsy: BUY NOW: The PiTOP
From Etsy: BUY NOW: The PhiTOP
The PiTOP: this beautiful brass cylinder has a radius of 1 inch, a height of 1/π inches, and displays the first 109 digits of π on its face. Spin this disk (best with sound on) and it will demonstrate some very interesting physics involving energy transfer and conservation of angular momentum. The edges of the cylinder are rounded and engineered to exhibit an optimum motion of a “spolling” coin, a motion that combines spinning and rolling (closeup shown in 240fps). As the disk’s angle of inclination decreases the speed of the rolling increases dramatically until the contact point with the mirror is moving in excess of 200mph. From the mind of physicist Ken Brecher, inventor of the PhiTOP (swipe for video). Note also that with the specified height, that the volume of this cylinder is exactly 1 cubic inch!
Get sodalite-bearing syenite river stones here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Sodalite Glow Rocks
You will also want an awesome UV flashlight like this one:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: High Power UV Light
Sodalite Fluorescence: in daylight this rock looks like an ordinary river stone, but when illuminated with long wave ultraviolet light, patches of the mineral sodalite shine in bright orange glow. These stones are comprised of sodalite-bearing syenite, where syenite is a course grained igneous rock similar to granite but deficient in quartz. Found on the shores of Lake Superior- discovered in 2017 by Erik Rintamaki.
Nice versions are curretnly available from Etsy:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Impossible Nail
Impossible Nail: An eighteen-penny nail driven through the inner notches of a solid piece of wood. The wood was notched and the nail added- no glue used or cuts made, and the nail is solid and in one piece. Not impossible, but creating this does depend on the use of some amazing physical properties of wood. I won’t reveal the method here but a quick search on YouTube produces a few how-to videos showing the process.
Beautiful wood fractal art available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: High Voltage Fractal Art
High Voltage Wood Burn Fractal: a classic Lichtenberg fractal created by electrical discharge- in this piece artist/maker Nic Ferretti applied cobalt blue epoxy resin to fill the cavities of the burn pattern and create the look of frozen lightning. Swipe to see my attempt at this process with an old neon sign high voltage transformer using 7500 V at 20 mA. I turned the power off right before the two sides connected to get the fern-like look. The wood is slightly wetted with baking soda dissolved in tap water. WARNING high voltage can kill- do not use a transformer like this unless you are fully trained in electrical high voltage safety.
Some nice versions of this impossible object available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Golf Ball in Wood Cage
See more of these thought puzzles in my collection here: Impossible Objects
Impossible Caged Golf Ball: Here a regular off-the-shelf golf ball is somehow trapped within a cage made from a solid piece of hardwood walnut. Neither the ball nor the wood were cut or glued in the fabrication process. The puzzle aspect is to consider how this object was produced (I have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist).
Get these and other well made disection puzzles here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Square Dissection Puzzles
These puzzles are expertly laser cut and sold by GamesEfce. I spray-painted the pieces of mine to better show the shapes and relationships for the video.
Square to Dodecagon Dissection Puzzle: a square can be cut (dissected) into polygons and then reassembled into other regular polygons. Amazingly the 12-sided regular polygon can be cut into these six specific pieces that can then fit a square. Swipe to see the minimum cuts dissections for a hexagon, pentagon, and triangle.
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.
Get this device here (in your choice of color):
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Dual Threaded Bolt Print
Dual Threaded Bolt: this 3D printed fidget toy illustrates an interesting design that may have important engineering applications in preventing loosening of fasteners. Here one nut threads on clockwise as normal- the other threads on counterclockwise on the same bolt.
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.
Get this and other wind kinetic art here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Stainless Steel Kinetic Spinners
Warped Spiral Kinetic Art: a slight breeze will set this stainless steel sculpture into graceful and mesmerizing action. When spinning the rotation creates translational motion along the vertical- and each helix in this version has a slight asymmetry that adds to the complexity of the perceived motion.
Click here to visit this amazing Etsy shop Element83
Get a magnetic levitation sculpture here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW Diamagnetic Levitation Sculptures
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.
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).
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.
Get an impossibe object from this artist here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Impossible Bottles and Objects
Impossible Bottle with Arrow Sculpture Puzzle: a new seemingly impossible object in my collection- Created with clever engineering, this “impossible” syrup bottle contains a wooden arrow that should not fit through its neck. The wood of the arrow is notably one uncut piece, and yet a metal washer is also somehow trapped on the shaft of the arrow. The puzzle aspect is to consider how the bottle was produced (I personally have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist). I can tell you with high certainty that the bottle was never cut or altered in anyway, and it was not somehow formed around the objects. This bottle by Brad Byers is an expertly crated example of the impossible object genre.
Available from Pyrigan & Co.
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Lissajous Roller Illusion
Lissajous Roller: when viewing this 3D printed object from the side one sees a projection of a 3:2 Lissajous curve, but the object is actually cylindrical in frame and can roll towards or away from the viewer. When in motion a “dual axis illusion” is produced where the object appears to be rotating about a vertical axis. Invented by Bill Gosper and produced by Pyrigan & Co.
Get this 3-color laser cut acrylic version here:
From Kadon Enterprises: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle
Also a very nice multicolor acyrlic version here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle
Learn about the 1998 discovery of the lost writings of Archimedes (and the technology used to recover them) in this TED talk.
Ancient Stomachion Puzzle: the oldest known puzzle, discovered in the writings of the great Greek physicist and mathematician Archimedes from some 2200 years ago. The puzzle is a dissection of a square into 14 polygons, where the areas of each piece are integer multiples of each other (a curious way to slice it up). In 2003 Bill Cutler showed that there are 536 district ways to configure these pieces to make the square (five are shown here), ignoring simple rotations and reflections. Swipe to see the most famous solution, attributed to Archimedes himself, that was found in an ancient manuscript discovered only in 1998- before this date historians knew the name of the puzzle, but no one knew what it looked like. Kate Jones, the maker of this particularly aesthetic version, found that when using only three colors for the polygons, there are only 6 solutions where no two pieces of the same color touch (four solutions shown here).
Get this amazing 3D print here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Seirpinski Pyramid
or print it yourself:
From Thingverse: Seirpinski Pyramid
Half Sierpinski Octahedron Fractal: this 3D printed math sculpture is one half of the sixth iteration of what is called “the octahedron flake” a 3D fractal based on the Sierpinski triangle. To make this fractal, on each iteration an inverted triangle is removed from the center of the previous triangle, and if this process is repeated indefinitely one gets the famous fractal. This 3D print used rainbow silk PLA to create the beautiful color gradient base on the .stl files by Rick Tu. Another example of math brought to life via 3D printing!