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Celestial Sphere: the Stars of the Night Sky

Created by Clemens & Christoph of CinkS labs: Available in a cube too! 
From CinkS Labs: BUY NOW: Celestial Spheres

Celestial Sphere: the positions of 5068 stars as they appear in the night sky- along with 88 constellations, laser etched into a crystal sphere. This globe includes all stars of sixth magnitude or brighter- basically all the stars that the average and unaided human eye can see in the sky. The Milky Way in a Sphere: the distribution of stars in our home galaxy, laser etched into a crystal sphere, according to the most recent telescopic surveys and mappings- including the stars in the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (a small galaxy that is simultaneously orbiting and getting absorbed into the Milky Way) and the major globular clusters outside the main disk

Fused Optical Fiber Image Conduit

Here are some similar image conduits- ones that magnify. These taper magnifiers are special application devices and are typically very expensive, but often some can be found on eBay: 
From eBay: BUY NOW: fiber optic plate

This PDF file by SCHOTT Glass industries has a great introduction to the physics and applications of this fiber optic technology, and the amazing process of how these image conduits are made: An Introduction to Fiber Optic Imaging - SCHOTT North America 

Fused Optical Fiber Image Conduit: this cylinder is made of one million fiber optic channels per square centimeter, each fiber providing one "pixel" of the transmitted image. Each fiber has a core of clear glass encased in a thin shell of glass with higher refractive index- but each is only 10 micrometers in diameter. This conduit contains over 6 million such fibers! With thanks to Mark Setteducati for supplying this specimen. 

Dipole Magnet and Iron Filings

Get this set here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Viewing Cylinder

Dipole Magnet and Iron Filings: visualizing the invisible- the magnetic field lines around a dipole magnet. In the presence of a magnetic field, ferromagnetic materials (such as iron) temporarily become magnets. Here the iron filings become dipole magnets and link end to end to follow and reveal the magnetic field lines associated with the permanent magnet within the hollow tube. 


Primed Siphon

Available here: 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW 
Primed Siphon Arch

Primed Siphon: liquid moves until the water levels are equal- curious combination of the effects of gravity, molecular cohesion, and atmospheric pressure. The tube is hollow and pre-filled with water, and the spherical shells on each end are cups also full of water. With each end of the tube submerged into each cup, atmospheric pressure holds the water in the tube until the siphon can be placed to connect the glasses. 

Magnetic Tensegrity Table

Available here:

From sphidget.com: BUY NOW: Magnetic Tensegrity Table

See similar scupltures here: Tensegrity on @physicsfun

Folow this link for Mova kinetic globes:  Mova Globes- Earth and Planets

Magnetic Tensegrity Table: This CNC machined tensegrity sculpture replaces the center tension member (chain) with a pair of attracting neodymium magnets. Made from 6061 aluminum and nickel plated steel chain, the “Impossible Table” is the creation of Kevin Sayers of sphidget.com. The table can support up to about a kilogram of mass, and makes for a nice display stand for my Mova globe of Pluto (swipe to view). Another fun configuration of the tensegrity concept, invented by Kenneth Snelson and made famous by the architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949. 

Pisces Kinetic Art Lamp

The Pisces Lamp is now avaialbel for purchase here:

BUY NOW: Pisces Kinetic Art Lamp

From the same artist who created the Aquarius Fountian Lamp

Pisces Kinetic Art Lamp: standing waves of a rotating string are illuminated by strobing light in this new kinetic sculpture by artist and computer engineer Stephen Co. With the help of programmable micro-controllers, strips of addressable RBG LEDs are made to flash in sequences that make the rotating string change colors, merge into spoon shaped surfaces, or split into multiple braids. The string is propelled by small motors and the standing waves can have multiple nodes, which can be altered by touching the string while in motion.


Infinity Mirror Tea-Light Candle

Get this canlde holder here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Infintiy Tea-Light 

Infinity Mirror Tea-Light Candle: another great physics gift received this year- a candle holder with two sets of parallel partially mirrored panes of glass produce, through the physics of reflection and refraction, the illusion of multiple candle flames spanning out in two dimensions. A rotating platform helps access the full scope and geometry of the multiple reflections. 

The Swinging Sticks

The Swinging Sticks Desktop Toy version from their website: 
From GeelongShop.com: BUY NOW The Swinging Sticks
 

The Swinging Sticks: reposting a personal favorite- a driven coupled chaotic physical pendulum as kinetic art where the placement of the rods' axes of rotation are engineered to exhibit the widest range of interesting motion. Four AA batteries and a simple electromagnetic kicker circuit in the base gives a tiny push to a magnet in the end of the large rod, keeping the system in motion for over a year! Perhaps one of the most famous physics toys out there as it was featured in the movie Iron Man II (sitting on the desk of Pepper Potts).


Magnetic Suspension Lamp

Available for under $100 US: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Suspension Lamp 

From eBay: BUY NOW 
Magnetic Suspension Lamp 

Magnetic Suspension Lamp: not only does this lamp defy gravity, the LEDs in the bulb are powered through wireless induction (no batteries needed). This kind of levitation uses a control system with an adjustable electromagnet in a feedback loop with Hall effect sensors which allows for fine tuning of the magnetic field to exactly balance the pull of gravity. If this lamp design is unplugged (or the power goes off) the bulb assembly does not fall, but instead snaps onto the upper armature via strong permanent magnets embedded within. Amazing physics demonstrated by clever engineering! 

Nixie Tubes and Clock

The Nixie Tube Clock in the video is of amazing craftsmanship- real hardwood with brass accents and solid construction. Get one from this excellent shop: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW 
Nixie Tube Clocks 

Nixie Tube: 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. The “Numeric Indicator eXperimental 1” or NIX 1 was introduced in 1955 by Burroughs Corporation and manufactured until the 1990s. This clock uses modern electronics to power Russian versions called the ИH-19A where the numbers are stacked so the front symbols obscure each lighted cathode minimally: from back to front 1320984756. 

MaBoRun Minis

Many styles to choose from- get a MaBoRun here: 

From eBay: BUY NOW: MaBoRun Mini

Similar devices here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW MaBoRun Marble Run 

MaBoRun Minis: rolling marbles doing tricks as gravitational potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. Three mini marble runs each with a battery powered means of lifting the marbles: 1) a belt driven gear, 2) a scissor linkage that translates the rotation of the motor into linear motion to lift the marbles to the top and 3) an Archimedean Screw conveyer. Two of these runs incorporate a simulation of decaying orbits with conservation of angular momentum as the marbles whirl down funnel shaped tracks.


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Thermobile: Nitinol Engine

Get one here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOWNitinol Loop Heat Engine
From eBay: BUY NOW: Nitinol Loop Heat Engine

Thermobile: Nitinol wire loop heat engine- the memory wire straightens out when heated (contact with heat conducting brass wheel) causing the wheels to spin, providing mechanical kinetic energy from a cup of warm tea water. Swipe for a demonstration of Nitinol wire, a special alloy of nickel and titanium that can be trained to a specific shape at high temperature- bend it up at room temperature and it will snap back into shape when exposed to moderate heat such as hot tea water. This remarkable property is a type of solid state reversible phase transition known as a martensitic transformation. 

Buda Ball

Only available from the Flyte team:

From Flytestore.com: Buda Ball 

See also: The Story Clock

Buda Ball: a spherical magnet hovers 1.5 centimeters from the surface of a magnetic pinning system within a hardwood base. This kind of levitation uses 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- even when the base is in a vertical orientation! Amazing magnetic levitation physics demonstrated with aesthetic design (and very clever engineering) by the flyte.se team.


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Strandbeest Mini

Get one here! Make sure to get the Jr. Scientist version of this kit for best results. 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Strandbeest Model Kit 

Read about Theo Jansen and his novel leg linkage mechanism for the Strandbeests via these Wiki pages. 

Strandbeest Mini: A fully working model of artist Theo Jansen's Strandbeest kinetic sculpture which features Jansen's linkage- a unique leg mechanism which converts rotary motion of a crackshaft into smooth walking motion. Jansen's creations are usually a couple meters high and walk the beaches of the Netherlands powered by the wind. This version comes as a model kit that snaps together with no glue- a really fun project!

Scale Saturn with Ring System and Earth

Made by Jay Fisher and available here! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Saturn 
Buy the whole Solar System! 
From Shapeways: BUY NOW Scale Model Solar System 

Saturn with Ring System and Earth: 3D printed accurate scale model of the Earth (diameter = 0.80 cm) and Saturn (diameter = 7.6 cm). The ring system is color printed on transparency film- note that the inner ring edge to the outermost ring measures 73000 kilometers and could fit almost 7 Earths side by side. The rings around the actual planet are very thin, about 1 kilometer thick, so the transparency film is 250 times too thick to be to scale, and even just the thin 0.010 mm ink layer on the film is 20 times thicker that the actual rings would be at this scale! Made by artist/maker Jay Fisher using images from NASA.