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The PhiTop

This great little lab stirrer (which I modified to have a transparent top) can be used in many investigations and demonstrations: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Stirrer 

Inexpensive concave lenses make great spinning platforms- get one here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Concave Lens Spin Station 

Get a PhiTOP in aluminum here (will work nicely in this demo):
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW PhiTOP 
From Amazon: BUY NOW PhiTOP

Induced Current Spin-Up: Spinning magnets from the magnetic stirrer induce electric currents to flow in the brass PhiTOP- these currents then create their own magnetic field which opposes the magnets underneath and pushes the PhiTOP to spin. Credit to astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, the creator of the PhiTOP and this unique means of using Lenz’s Law to spin it up. This top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. The concave lens keeps the top from wandering off of magnetic stirrer. 

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Hero's Engine

This live steam engine is available here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Hero's Engine

Hero’s Engine: the very first steam engine ever devised, the Aeolipile is a radial steam jet reaction turbine, an a invention attributed to Hero of Alexandria in the year 1 AD. Water within the spherical container is heated to produce steam which exits through nozzles directed at right angles to the radial direction, and by Newton’s third law these jets produce a torque about the rotation axis. There is no historical record of this engine being put to practical use in ancient times- except perhaps as the world’s first physics toy!


Sphericon Frame Roller

Get one here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Quantum Sphericon

Sphericon Frame Roller: beautiful 3D printed version of a developable roller (an object that rolls where every point on the roller’s surface comes into contact with the plane upon which it rolls). The sphericon (based on a square) rolls in a straight line with a peculiar wobble motion and was discovered in 1980 by David Hirsch and is but one of a family of such rollers called polycons. 

Non-Circular Gears

Get these wonderful laser cut sets here (I only added some bright spray paint): 

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Non-Circular Gears

Non-Circular Gear Trains: a survey of a few designs using gears with some interesting shapes that can produce variations in rotation speeds. Swipe to view: two oblong gears, two logarithmic spiral gears, and four squircle gears. Just a small sample of the infinite possible shape combinations and arrangements of non-circular gear sets. With thanks to the Jeux Efce shop for sending me these wonderful laser cut gears and mounts. 

Mini Acoustic Levitator

Get this inexpensive device here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Mini Acoustic Levitator

Mini Acoustic Levitator: small pieces of styrofoam become trapped between areas of higher pressure induced by high frequency sound waves. Ultrasonic transducers placed at the top and bottom are basically speakers that emit sound waves at a frequency of 43,000 Hz, which corresponds to a wavelength of 8mm for dry air. If the transducers are positioned just right standing waves are produce with nodes of low pressure at half wavelength intervals- and low mass objects like these foam pellets will be suspended against gravity when placed near one of these nodes. Here we see a stack of three pellets with a spacing of about 4mm which is the expected distribution of the nodes. To place the pellets into the sound stream without disrupting the standing waves this device comes with a small screen with a handle which allows the sound waves to flow through the holes in the mesh and trap piece of foam. Although the device uses sound it appears silent as the frequency used is way above that which humans can hear (20Hz to 20kHz).

 


Holoscopes

Order a holoscope from the artist's gallery here: 
The artwork of Gary Allison: BUY NOW Holoscopeworld.com 

6 and 12 Faced Holoscopes: a cube and dodecahedron of mirrors. A type of kaleidoscope based on truncated Platonic solids by artist Gary Allison @holoscope2000. These holoscopes are in the form of two famous Platonic solids- each with all the corners cut off to allow light to enter through triangular holes. Through the symmetry of the reflections, these triangles appear as an infinite array of tetrahedron shapes in the dodecahedron, and as beautiful repeating stellated octahedrons in the cube. Each holoscope has stained glass on the exterior and front surface mirrors on the inside which create the amazing and seemingly impossible spaces within. 

Disk Tesla Coil

Create amazing Telsa coil lighning at an affordable price! Please be sure to employ all appropriate safety precautions when utilizing any electrical circuity.  

From engineDIY: BUY NOW: Disk Tesla Coil

Click here for similar amazing devices from engineDIY

Disk Tesla Coil: incredible coronal brush discharges form intricate miniature lightning in this variation of the famous air core double-tuned resonate transformer invented by Nikola Tesla in 1891. In this novel design the coil is created using modern printed circuit board (PCB) technology producing a spiral of many conductive windings, so thin and close together it looks a bit like a gold phonograph record. The 10 cm long sparks are made possible by a very high voltage, but also a very fast discharge of a capacitor, and each lightning flash is accompanied by a dramatic popping sound characteristic of capacitor discharge (shown up close in 240fps slow motion). Powered by a 24V DC supply, this unit is fairly safe due to a low current (mA)- the discharge feels like a light tickle (but don’t touch the electrode- it gets hot). 

Glow Trace Chaotic Pendulum Kit

This kit (usually part of a subscription) often available here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: Glow Pendulum Kit

Get amazing quatilty science kits delievered to your home- this glow pendulum is part of the Tinker Crate subscription. 
From KiwiCo: LEARN MORE: Tinker Crate Subscription

Glow Trace Chaotic Pendulum: this fun and amazing DIY kit features a UV diode to trace the intricate path of this double pendulum system on to a phosphorescent screen, revealing the physics of chaotic motion. It’s amazing that such complex motion can arise from a simple assembly of two pendulums, one attached to the end of the other. Chaotic motion, such as that observed here, is characterized by extreme sensitivity to initial starting conditions, tiny differences in how the system is released leads to dramatically different outcomes each time. 

 


Mirror Vision Puzzle

More than three versions of this puzzle out there. Often available here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Mirror Vision Puzzle

Mirror Vision Puzzle: this Harry Potter themed puzzle has only 9 pieces but each supplies two parts of the final image- without the mirror one gets only half the picture. The top of each square is a corrugated lenticular composition of two images, and when viewed from the correct angle only one image can be seen directly, with the other reflected in the mirror, which combine in this case to reveal the famous phoenix bird of the HP stories. Flipping over the puzzle squares produces a second image to solve, this time a basilisk. An ingenious puzzle form from inventor/designer Mark Setteducati and sold by Mattel.

Polage Miniature Ornament

Get these ornaments while they last: 

From Austine Studios: BUY NOW: Polage Ornament

Polage Miniatures: art with polarized light using polarizing sheets and birefringent cellophane to create changing forms and colors. A polarizing filter is used to reveal the colorful designs- amazingly with two images hidden within these layers. Rotation of the polarizing filter also allows the artist to produce colorful metamorphosis in these images. These affordable sun catchers are made in limited quantities by @austinestudios, and look amazing through polarized sunglasses as well. Light as a transverse wave has an orientation, denoted as polarization, and a polarizing filter can be used to block certain orientations. The colors in polage come from how the molecular structure of plastics can rotate the polarization of any light that passes through- but only light corresponding to yellows and greens gets rotated in plastic, reds and blues not so much. Polage uses different layers of plastic to rotate the light, and then polarizing filters are added to allow only certain frequencies (colors) of light through. 

Aurora Laser Projector

This affordable Laser show device available here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Aurora Laser Show Projector

Aurora Laser Projector: red, green, and blue laser elements are refracted through a rotating optical element with lumpy surface features which create this amazing aurora/nebula effect. When light rays refract through a curved surface they concentrate into bright patches called caustics, often with cusp singularities (sharp points) and intricate threads of shadow. Swipe to see a cyan laser pointer interact with the caustic projection optical element removed from this device- as seen in a recent post. 


The Levitron

Levitron Tops were produced in the 1990s and are out of production and getting harder to find. Some models are still available here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW: Levitron Top 

The Levitron: spin stabilized magnetic levitation- will fly for about 3 minutes or more per launch. The spin rate of the magnetic top must be just right for flight, not too fast or too slow. Air resistance and dissipative interactions between the magnets gradually slow the spin rate and the top falls. Interestingly trapping the top requires precision - the weight of the top must be adjusted to within 1 gram to achieve equilibrium between the pull of gravity and the magnetic repulsion from the large donut shaped magnet in the wood base.

Self-Propelled Homopolar Motor on Aluminum Foil Racetrack

I used neodymium disk magnets, small end = 1/2" diameter, Large end = 3/4" diameter. 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Disk Magnets for Simple Motor 

Foil Runner Motor assembly diagram: 
Self-Propelled Homopolar Motor on Aluminum Foil Racetrack: A favorite DIY physics toy where disk shaped neodymium magnets supply the static magnetic field for this motor and become the wheels of a very simple vehicle with an AAA battery as the energy source. As soon as both ends make contact with the conducting aluminium foil an electric current will flow which in turn induces a magnetic field underneath the battery assembly. This induced field will then interact with the neodymium magnets on each end causing them to spin- a wonderful example of a motor with minimal components. The racetrack is a cardboard circle from a pizza box covered in kitchen foil.

Dipole Magnet and Iron Filings

Get these devices here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Viewing Cylinder

From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer Cube 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer 

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. In these devices iron filings (in air, or mixed in oil) become dipole magnets and link end to end to follow and reveal the magnetic field lines associated with the permanent magnet within the center hollow tube. Simple yet functional magnetic field mapping devices.


Crushmetric Holographic Foil Pen

Available here:

From Crushmetric: BUY NOW: Crushmetric Pen

From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Switch Pen

Crushmetric Holographic: the Switch Pen with diffractive rainbow foil- functional kinetic art based on materials science and tessellation origami techniques. The crushed state can be reversed over and over in this incredible design by artist/inventor Noah Deledda, also known for his similar sculptures created from aluminum cans. 

Lenz's Law with Feel Flux

Feel Flux-- available as a set, or individually (all come with the super powerful sphere magnet) here:

From feelflux.com: BUY NOWCopper Feel Flux

Get some magnetic viewing film here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Magnetic Viewing Film
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Regular Magnetic Viewing Film 

Lenz's Law: a strong Feel Flux neodymium magnet falls slowly down a thick walled copper tube as though passing through a viscous liquid. Since magnetic fields pass through copper, magneview film reveals the location of the falling dipole magnet. The moving magnetic field from the falling magnet produces electric currents in the copper- these currents then produce magnetic fields that have the opposite polarity to the initial field. So a falling magnet makes the copper pipe briefly into an electromagnet that then repels the falling magnet. Swipe to see the magnetic viewing film in detail. Special thanks to the guys from Feel Flux who kindly sent me this awesome longer piece of the copper tube from which their amazing toy is produced. 

CUMOS Cube Kaleidoscope

The CUMOS Cube is a creation of artist Minori Yamazaki. Available for purchase- inquire via the contact info below:

Fron Art of Play: BUY NOW:  Cosmos in a Box

CUMOS Cube: a variation on the Kaleidoscope by artist @minori.yamazaki that produces a Cosmos in a box. So much wonder hidden within this unassuming white cube where etchings on front surface mirrors produce the repeating geometric patterns. A moving light source (led flashlight) is projected on the cube producing the dazzling animation effect on the multiple reflections.