Recent Posts

Tapered Mirror Kaleidoscope 

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. 

Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator

Get this inexpensive version that makes big sparks!

from Engine DIY: BUY NOW: Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator

Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator: this device uses two counter rotating disks of metal pads to separate charge via induction. The repulsion felt by electrons as the triangle plates pass by each other pushes charge to flow across two conducting rods, one on each side, which allows the charge to stack up. This excess charge is then stored in old fashioned cylindrical capacitors (Leyden Jars) until the resulting 30,000+ Volts is achieved to jump the air gap. This device goes back to 1883- invented by James Wimshurst

The Orb Drop IV

A new KickStarter campaign from engineer and maker extraordinaire Rian Suiter. Rian has delivered on each all 11 (eleven!) of his creative physics toy related KickStarter campaigns to date. Check out his latest here: 
From KickStarter: Order NOW Orb Drop IV marble run track 

The Orb Drop IV: @orbdrop has created another fun DIY marble run- this one uses an Archimedean screw mechanism to bring the marbles continuously back to the top where they are launched along one of three paths- including a vortex funnel. Gravitational potential energy is transformed to the kinetic energy of the orbs as they loop and negotiate the banked turns of the snaking tracks. Three AA batteries and a small motor power the transport assembly. 


3-Shuttle Trammel of Archimedes

Get this device here:

BUY NOW: 3 shuttle device

This device came in my Curiosity Box subscrition. A great way to start collecting your own physics toys (and other brain food):

From the Vsauce team: BUY NOW: The Curiosity Box (New box will ship soon- get a great deal now)

Get similar (two shuttle) devices here: 

From Etsy: BUY NOW 
Trammel of Archimedes

3-Shuttle Trammel of Archimedes: as the shuttles take turns completing their straight line journeys, the end of the crank arm traces an ellipse. This precision 3-shuttle version by the VSauce team came in my @thecuriositybox - made with high quality molded plastic parts that produce very smooth movement- a wonderful addition to my collection! Sometimes sold as a “do nothing machine” or “nothing grinder”, far from doing nothing this simple and crucially important mechanism demonstrates how rotational motion can be converted into translational oscillatory motion- such as how a piston can drive an engine’s crankshaft.

 

The PhoTOP

Get a PhoTOP here (comes with laser pointer!):
From Vat19: 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

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.

Pendulum Snake

Get this version here:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Pendulum Snake

Pendulum Snake: 15 independent swinging pendulums, each with a slightly longer period than the one to its left side, create mesmerizing wave patterns. As the pendulums get further out of phase with each other the waves become shorter and faster. This order and pattern is quickly destroyed if two of the pendulums were to collide (swipe for demonstration).


Super Absorbent Polymer

Get some of these grow-spheres here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Growing Spheres 

Super Absorbent Polymer: poly-acrylamide polymer crystals are able to absorb up to 200 times their volume of water. Here seven small spheres, approximately 4mm in diameter, were immersed in water for three hours, after which they were slightly more than 23mm across. The final gel sphere is more than 99.5% water- and they bounce! 

In-Feed Google

Butterfly Mendocino Motor

Get this elegant motor here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Butterfly Medocino Motor

Butterfly Mendocino Motor: the simplest (and very elegant) version of this motor with only two photovoltaic cells mounted with care to ensure precision balance. This motor will spin quietly to high RPMs on any sunlit windowsill. In this model made by Semyon Nazarov of SolarWindRU, each of the two photovoltaic solar cells is connected to a coil of copper wire under the opposing solar cell. When the rotor is lit from above the top solar cell provides electric current to the coil in the bottom position which becomes a temporary electromagnet that pushes against the permanent magnet in the base propelling the rotor to rotate. As the rotor turns, the coil that moves into the bottom position is likewise energized by the solar cell currently at the top- one can say the light commutates this motor. 2D magnetic levitation is provided by permanent magnets where an acrylic plate constrains the third dimension, and makes for a nice bearing surface for minimal friction. Invented in the 1960s by Daryl Chapin of Bell Labs and popularized by Larry Springs of Mendocino CA


Simple Stirling Engine

Get this amazing model engine here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Simple Stilring Engine

See other featured DYI devices here: EngineDIY Models

Simple Stirling Engine: Perhaps the simplest piston engine ever devised- a single piston powered by a tiny alcohol lamp. Glass components allow a view of the internal workings of this design, and the interesting startup behavior from oscillation to full rotation. Heat engines produce mechanical motion from a difference in temperature- here the piston side is near room temperature (the central aluminum post is an excellent conductor and acts as a heat sink as the gas flows through), and the test tube is kept at high temperature via the flame, with metal fibers to help conduct the heat into the air (this component is called the regenerator). Swipe to see the elegant assembly of this model, and swipe again to see the engine power down. This external combustion design is attributed to Scottish engineer Robert Stirling back in 1816.

Cherry Blossom Thermochromic Sake Cups

Similar cups available here- some change with hot water, some with cold:

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Cherry Blossom Color Change Cup

Check out these other thermochomic physics toys

Cherry Blossom Sake Cups: ice cold liquid produces blue blossoms on the initially bare branch, but pour in a hot beverage and the branch fills with pink flowers! The designs at the bottom of these ceramic color-changing cups employ leuco dyes, thermochromic chemicals that have reversible forms, one colorless.


The Square Wave

Own this scuplture by Ivan Black (made in collaboration with Italian manufacture house Atellani): 
From Art of Play: BUY NOW Square Wave 

The Square Wave: an interactive kinetic sculpture of 24 interlocking right angle metal rods from the mind of artist Ivan Black. Waves propagate, folding the structure into a tight curl- and a reverse snap will bring it back to the initial flat square state. An important design feature is that each right angle rod is limited to move through about 45 degrees, and all through parallel axes, allowing for the beautiful rotational wave motion via a cascade of angular momentum transfer. 

Equitorial Bulge Demostration 

Wikipedia has the details about the actual shape of the Earth: oblate spheroid planets 

Here is an inexpensive toy that shows similar physics: Rainbow Twirler

Equatorial Bulge Demo: two springy circular rings flatten along their axis of rotation in proportion to the rate of spin in this classic teaching demonstration. This device demonstrates that centripetal accelerations applied to an elastic sphere will cause it to bulge at the equator- becoming an oblate spheroid. Isaac Newton predicted that given the Earth’s rotation, the radius to the equator would be larger than the radius to the North Pole by 1 part in 230. He was correct! (although overestimated slightly- swipe for description) Modern measurements indicate 1 part in 294.7. Question: At what location on Earth could you stand on land and be furtherest from its center? Mt Everest is a good guess, but the correct answer is the top of Mt Chimborazo in Ecuador. (swipe twice for details) Although Everest is higher above sea level, the equatorial bulge puts the top of Chimborazo a 2.2 km further into space from the center of the Earth.

Electromagnetic Levitation Module

Get this kit here (comes complete as shown in my video):
From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Magnetic Levitation Module

The featured sculture is by Bathsheba Grossman, affordable and beautiful math art available here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Soliton Sculpture

Electromagnetic Levitation Module: this engineered control system uses adjustable electromagnets (four copper coils) and and two Hall effect magnetic field sensors (held firm embedded in white silicone) to levitate an 5cm diameter neodymium magnet platform about 3 cm in mid-air. A feedback loop informed by the Hall effect sensors allows fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity, and is powered by a standard USB connection. The platform also rotates, perfect for showcasing one of my metal 3D printed mathematical sculptures by Bathsheba Grossman.


Magnetic Flux Gyroscope Pendant

Magnetic Flux Pendants and other amazing science inspired jewelry available here:

From Foxtail Jewelry: BUY NOW: Kinetic Magnetic Pendants

Magnetic Flux Gyroscope Pendant: two neodymium magnets on chains remain suspended by their mutual magnetic attraction. This kinetic art necklace design is from a new line of physics inspired jewelry- a collaboration with designer and artist Betsy Yates of @foxtailjewelry who so masterfully brought this concept to life and is currently featuring @physicsfun inspired pendants in her gallery and store. 

Eclipse Diamagnatic Sculpture

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.