Recent Posts

Three Polarizing Sheets

Get some polarizing filter sheets here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Polarizing Sheets 

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See this short introduction to linear polarizing filters on Hyperphysics, and many more details on polarization from Wikipedia

Three Polarizing Sheets: quantum mechanical behavior with light polarization. Two linear polarizing sheets oriented at 90 degrees blocks all light- if a third sheet is placed between, oriented at 45 degrees, an eighth of the original light then gets through! A classic example of the quantum mechanical phenomenon of superposition of states as it pertains to the polarization orientation of photons and probability of transmission. 

Scrap Metal Kinetic Sculpture

The nested curves revealed with this device are related to the Lissajous curves. 
Learn more on Wikipedia: Lissajous curve 

See another: kinetic art system that produces similar curves.

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Scrap Metal Kinetic Sculpture: a bent spring becomes a coupled harmonic oscillator with two modes of oscillation, one along a horizontal direction and one at an angle. As the kinetic energy trades back and forth between these two modes the end of the spring traces out a Lissajous curve (revealed by a white LED) which gets smaller in size each cycle as friction dissipates energy from the system. The full beauty of this motion is captured by recording the light traced using the Slow Shutter Cam App which unveils the nested family of curves.($1.99 in App Store, Cogitap Software)

Time's Up

Similar timers available from these sources: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Inverted Timer 

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Time's Up: inverse of the sandglass- tiny plastic beads are less dense than the water and thus ascend to the top of the container under the influence of a buoyant force in accordance with Archimedes' principle. This timer takes almost exactly 6 minutes to complete shown here at normal speed for the first half of this video, and the second half is condensed to 24 seconds in time-lapse. 


Universe Sphere

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

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Wikipedia has a good description of the distribution of galaxies on this scale 

Universe Sphere: 380000 laser etched dots, each dot representing a galaxy of stars, reveals the largest scale structure of our universe. This glass sphere contains a 3D mapping of galaxies in a volume of our universe spanning 800 million lightyears in diameter, and matches the clumping and distribution as seen by automated telescopic surveys such as that found in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey data. Hold a chunk of the universe in your hand!

Spin Bank

Available from these fine sources: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Coin Spin Bank 

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Spin Bank: a clever spring mechanism launches each coin into rotation along a symmetry axis on to a concave trapping surface. Angular momentum of the spinning quarter keeps it upright even as it bounces upon impact with the platform. Another spin on making saving spare change fun!

Am-241 in Wilson Cloud Chamber

I found this vintage apparatus on eBay. Here is a similar device made for classroom demonstrations (a bit pricey though): 
From 3B Scientific: BUY NOW Wilson Cloud Chamber 

Wikipedia has nice descriptions of Am-241 and the history and operation of Wilson Cloud Chambers 

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Am-241 in Wilson Cloud Chamber: the typically invisible ionization tracks of alpha particles emitted from a radioactive source are revealed in this miniature expansion type cloud chamber. When an americium nuclei disintegrates it ejects a high speed cluster of protons and neutrons (2 of each) called an alpha particle which then plows through the air creating a trail of ions, tearing electrons off any nearby molecules it passes by. A rapid decrease of pressure (releasing the squeeze bulb) drops the temperature in this chamber allowing cloud formation. Alcohol droplets prefer to condense on ionized molecules/atoms and so reveal the tracks. Amazingly the synthetic element americium-241 is found in common smoke detectors, where a few micrograms will emit thousands of alphas per second. Of course please use great caution if you choose to mess around with any Am-241- it’s safe inside the smoke detector, much less so if removed. 


The Galton Board

Available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW  Galton Board 

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The Galton Board: 3000 steel balls fall through 12 levels of branching paths and always end up matching a bell curve distribution. Each ball has a 50/50 chance of following each branch such that the balls are distributed at the bottom by the mathematical binomial distribution. One of my favorite finds of 2018! An elegantly designed modern version of the Galton Box invented by Sir Francis Galton(1894) to demonstrate the Central Limit Theorem - showing how random processes gather around the mean. In addition the number of balls in each bin can be predicted by Pascal's triangle (printed on the face over the pegs).

Tension Integrity Icosohedron: Tensegrity

Get this kit and build one:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Tensegrity Kit

A nice version of this tensegrity icosohedron is sold as a toy for tiny tots: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Tensegrity Toy 

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I constructed this version by referring to the images and descriptions of tensegity on Wikipedia 

Tension Integrity Icosohedron: Six brass struts float isolated from each other but held in a stable configuration by a net of 24 connecting cables. I made this sculpture using hollow brass tubes and weaving through them a single strand of fishing line, which is connected after passing through each tube exactly four times. This configuration of three sets of parallel struts forms a Jessen’s icosahedron under tension, and was invented by the famous architect Buckminster Fuller in 1949.


Magnetic Suspension Lamp

Available here: 

From Amazon: BUY NOW: Magnetic Suspension Lamp 

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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! 

The Heritage Periodic Table

Periodic Table with 83 element samples: 
From Etsy store ProtoshopLLC: BUY NOW: Heritage Periodic Table

See also: The Collector's Edition with 85 samples

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Please note: there are fradulent versions of this with only pictures embedded in the acyrlic being sold on facebook. The link above is the only place to get the actual version. 

The Heritage Periodic Table Display: a comprehensive collection of the chemical elements that can fit in the hand. Embedded in acrylic are actual samples of 83 of the 118 elements- including pure bubbles of the gaseous elements- represented by 75 high purity samples and 7 compounds. 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the world changing periodic system of Dmitri Mendeleev (published in 1869). This table and collection is the creative work of Tim and Cory Marriott of Engineered Labs Protoshop LLC 

Impossible Card Case

Get this fun card case here and support this amazing museum:

From the MoMath Store: BUY NOW: Rollover Card Case

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Impossible Card Case: this business card carrier has a special double hinge that allows it to be opened from either side, and transforms from stripes of white and silver to black and silver. I use this to carry @physicsfun bling diffractive stickers. Sometimes called a magic or flip case, the ribbon construction is similar to the famous Jacob’s Ladder toy I’ve featured and dscribed. 


Impossible Trapped 8-Ball

Get this amazing object here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Trapped 8-Ball

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Trapped 8-Ball: one more addition to my “impossible object”collection- a solid wooden frame contains an 8-ball which is too large to fit through any of the holes. The puzzle aspect is to consider how the ball was somehow inserted (as usual I personally have some theories- but I do not know the secrets of this artist). I can tell you with high certainty that the frame was fabricated from a single piece of wood, and once made, never cut or glued in anyway. A creation by artist/maker Troy Hawkins. 

 

 

 

Impossible Bottle with Arrow

Get an impossibe object from this artist here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Impossible Bottles and Objects

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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.


Impossible Frame in Bottle

Each constructed by hand, each a work of art-  get a personalized bottle here:

From The Bottleologist website: BUY NOW: Impossible Bottle with Frame

From his Etsy store: BUY NOW: Impossible Bottles

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Impossible Frame in Bottle: another seemingly impossible object in my collection from craftsman/artist Grant Wicks AKA the Bottleologist. A framed photo complete with all hardware somehow assembled within a Fannys Bay Whisky bottle- a uniquely square bottle. More- the photo is a recursive Droste Effect image of the bottle itself. 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 frame. 

Impossible Bottle with Corkscrew

Contact Davide here to obtain one of his amazing sculptures:

From impossiblemaker.ch: BUY NOW: Impossible Objects

Click here to see other items in my collection of Impossible Objects

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Impossible Bottle with Corkscrew: this beautiful work of art by @dp.fumagalli was created with clever engineering and expert craftwork. I love everything about this sculpture- from the inverted corkscrew theme to the shape of the bottle- and the artist’s delightful logo (an optical illusion- swipe for details). 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 everything in the bottle, somehow, went through its narrow neck. With special thanks to Davide Fumagalli (aka the Impossible Maker) for this wonderful addition to my collection.

Impossible Caged Golf Ball 

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

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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).