Get this new technology here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Color Magnetic Viewing Film
Color Gradient Magnetic Film: making the invisible visible and revealing the hidden beauty of the physics in our everyday world. The field structure of six magnetic objects can be seen here. Staring with a simple dipole neodymium in the center and going clockwise from the top left: fridge magnet with stripe pattern, magnetic rotor of a small motor, ring of poles of a stator for a stepper motor, vintage ferrous classroom “dipole”, and a coded interlocking neodymium magnet. Microscopic cavities in this thin film are filled with suspended magnetic nanoparticles that interact with magnetic fields producing different colors from orange (low field strength) to dark blue (high field strength).
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.
Magnetic Levitation in 1D: a stack of dipole magnets. Note how the spacing between any two magnets is proportional to weight of how many magnets there are above the gap. Gravity vs Magnetism.
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
Diffusion cloud chambers that use dry ice are more affordable:
From eBay: BUY NOW Diffusion Cloud Chamber
Wikipedia has nice descriptions of Am-241 and the history and operation of Wilson Cloud Chambers
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.
Get this amazing and affordable science sculptue here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Bismuth Maglev Rod
Click here to see other diamagnetic toys and scuptures
Bismuth Maglev Rod: Small magnets are trapped, suspended and floating, within the notch of a rod cast from the diamagnetic metal bismuth. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the small floating magnet supplies the external field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though, so a powerful neodymium magnet sits above the gap on the top of the rod, and its height is adjusted to help lift the small magnet against gravity. Another amazing creation by Ernie McElhannon of Element83.
Get this affordable math art here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Hyperboloid Fruit Basket
Take a look at other featured hyperbolid art and toys
Fruit Basket Hyperboloid: 14 straight rods are arranged to reveal a hyperboloid, the 3D surface traced by revolving a diagonal(skew) line, the outline of which is the conic section of the hyperbola. An affordable doubly ruled surface for any table- great for fruit or mathematical holiday decor!
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.
Precision machined and available in brass or stainless steel:
From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Nova Plexus Puzzle
Nova Plexus Puzzle: 12 identical brass rods can create 4 interlocking triangles in a perfect symmetry- look carefully and you can see that each rod is in an identical configuration with the 5 others that connect with it. Precision machined notches on the ends of the rods allow them to interlock with elastic tension such that vector sum of the 5 forces on each rod is zero- creating this astonishing geometry as the equilibrium state. Unlock the ends of any two rods and the system instantly disassembles (swipe to view process in slow motion). Invented/designed by artist and computer scientist Geoff Wyvill in 1978, this puzzle has just recently been made available for sale with a limited production run.
Get a set here:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Magnetic Field Viewer set
Viewing Magnetic Poles: visualizing the invisible- tiny iron filings suspended in viscous oil gracefully chain up to reveal the presence of magnetic field lines. Can you determine how the magnetic polls are configured by the structure of the field lines? Here three configurations, initially hidden behind white foam board, create the beautiful mappings of the fields.
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
Doubly Impossible Bottle: the newest seemingly impossible object in my collection from craftsman/artist Grant Wicks @thebottleologist. An “impossible nail” object was somehow assembled within a Fannys Bay Whisky bottle- and personalized with my logo too! 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 inside.
This lenticular post card is one of many fun items included in this book:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History
Lenticular McFlys Prop: A wonderful implementation of the classic animation effect that uses an array of thin cylindrical lenses over interlaced multiple images. This post card simulates the prop from the famous film, and comes with the 35th anniversary edition of “Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History” book which includes lots of other small items from the trilogy. Fun physics and a fascinating read about how this amazing movie series was made.
Get this nice example of mystery braid here:
From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Impossible Braid Key Fob
Here is a great video on how to make the mystery braid
See other Impossible Objects in my collection.
Mystery Braid: challenge- how can three strands be braided if both sets of ends are connected? (swipe for reveal) A new addition to my collection of “impossible objects”, this leather key fob is braided from a single piece of leather, constructed by making two parallel slits but not cutting the ends. The solution is well known to those in the field of leatherwork- due to a twist of topology it’s possible to make this braid if the number of left strand over right crossings equals the times the right strand crosses over the left. Four strands braided this way is not mathematically possible, but 3, 5, or any odd number can be done!
Get one from my friends at Grand Illusions!
From Grand Illusions Ltd.: BUY NOW Floating Steam Engine
Engines of similar design are used in pop-pop boats
Tea-Light Floating Engine: a candle powered super simple steam engine. The engine is just a coil of copper tubing filled with water. Steam builds up pushing water out with an explosive jet- which then results in a vacuum in the coil which pulls more water in to repeat the process. The water expulsion is in the form of jet directed out the end of the tube whereas the refill comes back in to the tube from a larger range of angles- so on balance the engine moves opposite to the direction of the jets.
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 container is just the middle part cut from a plastic water bottle, and the "hail" stones are Styrofoam craft beads:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Styrofoam Craft Beads
For Volta's Hailstorm to work, the beads must be coated with a conducting spray (here is what I used):
From Amazon: BUY NOW Staticide Spray
Wikipedia has a very nice description of the physics of the Electrophorus and how it is used to transfer electric charge.
Volta’s Hailstorm and Electrophorus: electrical forces due to electrostatic charge send foam beads flying in this version of the historic demonstration by physicist Alessandro Volta. The beads are covered with an electrically conductive coating allowing them to transfer charge from the environment to the plate of the electrophorus. The acrylic platform becomes negatively charged when rubbed with a paper napkin, but it is also an insulator so the charge on it can not flow on to the aluminum plate of the electrophorus. Instead the charge on the platform pushes electrons to the top of the plate (like signs repel) and touching the plate results in a spark that removes the electrons giving the plate a significant positive charge that will then attract the beads.
Get these 99.9% pure element Bi 83 cubes here:
From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Bismuth Element Cube
Bismuth levitation artwork and demonstrations available here:
From Etsy- Element 83: BUY NOW Magnetic Levitation Sculptures
Bismuth Diamagnetic Levitation: Element 83 (bismuth) is the most diamagnetic of the elements*. Here a small neodymium magnet is made to float between two 99% pure bismuth 10mm cubes which are held in precise configuration by friction with the parallel walls of the acrylic assembly I made. Diamagnetic substances only have magnetic fields of their own when placed in an external magnetic field from another source- here the tiny cube magnet supplies the field. Diamagnetic fields are pretty weak though so a powerful cylindrical neodymium magnet sits above the cubes and is adjusted to help lift the tiny cube magnet against gravity. *except for a special form of carbon known as pyrolytic graphite.
For this demonstration stronger magnets work best:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neodymium Magnets
Here is a good small turntable with bearings:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Spinning Base
Magnetic Influence on Aluminum: physics puzzler- spin a magnet under a beer can suspended by a thread, and the can will turn. Why? Aluminum is not ferromagnetic, and as shown, magnets are not attracted to the can. So how does a spinning magnet influence the can to spin?
Answer: the can spins due to eddy currents induced in the conducting aluminum due to the moving magnetic fields underneath. The eddy currents make the can into a temporary electromagnet that then interacts with the magnets below according to the famous law by Lenz.