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Frabjous Geometric Sculpture Puzzle

Get one here- five colors to choose from:

From MoMath: BUY NOW: Frabjous Sculpture Puzzle

Frabjous Geometric Sculpture Puzzle: 30 identical laser cut acrylic pieces interlock into 12 interconnected five point stars (each with a spiral vortex center) in this puzzle based of the Frabjous sculpture by artist and professor of mathematics George Hart (Prof. Hart is now on Instagram, follow him at @george.hart.sculptor to see more of his amazing work.) Note that if one connects the tips of the stars one gets the outline of a dodecahedron, with its 30 edges and 12 sides, and if one considers the face planes of the linked pentagrams the underlying shape is a polyhedron called the “great rhombic triacontahedron”. A year or so ago I got to visit the National Museum of Mathematics in NYC where I bought this puzzle in the @momath1 museum shop. This puzzle was great fun to assemble- buy one to support this inspirational museum, and make a great sculpture for your bookshelf! 

Impossible Trapped 8-Ball

Get this amazing object here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Trapped 8-Ball

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. 

 

 

 

Stomachion Puzzle

Get this 3-color laser cut acrylic version here:
From Kadon Enterprises: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle

Also a very nice multicolor acyrlic version here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Stomachion Puzzle

Learn about the 1998 discovery of the lost writings of Archimedes (and the technology used to recover them) in this TED talk

Ancient Stomachion Puzzle: the oldest known puzzle, discovered in the writings of the great Greek physicist and mathematician Archimedes from some 2200 years ago. The puzzle is a dissection of a square into 14 polygons, where the areas of each piece are integer multiples of each other (a curious way to slice it up). In 2003 Bill Cutler showed that there are 536 district ways to configure these pieces to make the square (five are shown here), ignoring simple rotations and reflections. Swipe to see the most famous solution, attributed to Archimedes himself, that was found in an ancient manuscript discovered only in 1998- before this date historians knew the name of the puzzle, but no one knew what it looked like. Kate Jones, the maker of this particularly aesthetic version, found that when using only three colors for the polygons, there are only 6 solutions where no two pieces of the same color touch (four solutions shown here).


Floating Yen

Aluminium 1 Yen coins are the perfect denisty to float as shown in the video:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: 1-Yen Coins

Floating Yen: the surface tension of water is strong enough to suspend the aluminum coin, and a trapped column of air in a second glass can submerge a portion of the surface with the coin. The 1-Yen coin has just the right mass and density for this demonstration. One of my favorite DIY physics demonstrations.

Lissajous Roller 

Available from Pyrigan & Co.

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Lissajous Roller Illusion

Lissajous Roller: when viewing this 3D printed object from the side one sees a projection of a 3:2 Lissajous curve, but the object is actually cylindrical in frame and can roll towards or away from the viewer. When in motion a “dual axis illusion” is produced where the object appears to be rotating about a vertical axis. Invented by Bill Gosper and produced by Pyrigan & Co. 

3D Wordflip Sculpture

Create your own here:

From sparenbergdesign.com: BUY NOW: 3D Wordflip

3D WordFlip Sculpture: from one point of view my logo appears, rotate 90 degrees and the sculpture reveals my tagline phrase “real magic”. Alternatively the messages can be cast as shadows (swipe to view). Amazingly you can create and print any two phrases of your choosing from the webpage of artist and designer Joris Sparenberg.


Tesla’s Egg of Columbus

PhiTOPs are available in Aluminum and Brass: 
From Etsy: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Brass 
From EI: BUY NOW PhiTOP in Aluminum 

Click here for more on the PhiTOP and using magnetic induction to spin it up. 

Tesla’s Egg of Columbus: a copper ellipsoid egg (PhiTOP) mysteriously spins and stands upright in this modern version of Tesla’s famous demonstration from the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago that first showcased the principles behind wireless power transfer and his AC induction motor. Rotating magnetic fields from under the wooden platform induce electric eddy currents to flow in the copper PhiTOP- these currents then create their own magnetic field which oppose the initial fields underneath and pushes the PhiTOP to spin. This version differs from Tesla’s in that the rotating magnetic fields are created by, well, a pair of rotating neodymium magnets (revealed by lifting the top platform in this model). Credit to astrophysicist Kenneth Brecher, the creator of the PhiTOP, and this unique means of using a common lab magnetic stirrer to create the induced currents. Finally, the ellipsoid top stands up vertically (when spun with sufficient rotational velocity) due to physics similar to that of the tippe-top. 

Tornado Spheres

Get a set here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Tornado Spheres

Get a concave mirror like the one in the video for less than $3 here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Concave Mirror  

And get a set of inexpensive colored lights here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Color LED lights 

Tornado Spheres: two ball bearings welded together can be made to spin up to 2000+ rpm by the Magnus Effect using a stream of air. Shining three colored LEDs on the spinning pair produces an illusion of floating rings along with a second illusion that these rings are rotating and changing direction due to aliasing with the frame rate of the video camera (like the famous wagon-wheel effect).

Arrow on Mobius Strip

Get the 3D print stl files here:

From printables: download now: Mobius Strip with Arrow

Arrow on Möbius Strip: on the geometry of a Möbius strip a right pointing arrow points left after one trip around, a second trip restores the original orientation. This mathematical property is called non-orientability, and is also true of Klein bottles which I’ve posted about. I love how this 3D printed model, designed and produced by Wes Pegden, allows one to physically manipulate and intuit this somewhat obscure mathematical property. 


Vertical Mendocino Motor

Get this device for a great price here:

From EngineDIY: BUY NOW: Vertical Mendocino Motor

Vertical Mendocino Motor: each face of solar cell is connected to a coil of copper wire. Spins fast and quite in a sunny window. As the rotor turns each solar cell takes a turn in the brightest light, which provides electric current to one of the coils which becomes a temporary electromagnet that pushes against the permanent magnet configuration in the center- propelling the rotor to rotate. The rotor assembly is nicely symmetric and balances on a sharp point for minimal friction. Invented in the 1960s by Daryl Chapin of Bell Labs and popularized by Larry Springs of Mendocino CA 

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. 

Earth Mass Black Hole with Space Warping Display Stand

Precision machined tungsten alloy spheres avaulable here:

From STEMCell Science: BUY NOW: Tungsten Black Hole Replica

Earth Mass Black Hole: this sphere of tungsten alloy has a diameter of 17.7mm, a precision representation of the size of the event horizon of a black hole with a mass equal to that of the Earth! If the entire mass of the earth could somehow be compressed to the size of this sphere, it would indeed collapse to a black hole with an event horizon defined by a Schwarzschild radius of 8.87mm. For comparison a black hole with the mass of the sun would be 6km across. This black hole replica is made of one of the densest materials available, a tungsten alloy with ρ=18.5 g/cm³ which produces a strange sensation when you hold it, with a weight of twice that of a ball bearing of equal size.


Cartesian Diver

Glass divers available here: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Glass Divers or this complete set Cartesian Diver Kit

Inexpensive and fun diver kits to make in a bottle available here: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Cartesian Diver Kits 
 

Cartesian Divers: increasing pressure on the water compresses the air bubbles in the small glass vials filling them further with water making them sink. Pascal's principle states that any change in pressure on an enclosed fluid (such as pushing on the rubber cover) is transmitted evenly to every part of the fluid- the physics of hydraulic brakes! Named after the physicist and philosopher Rene Descartes.

Uplift 2.0

This amazing device now available here: 

From ArtofPlay: BUY NOW: Uplift 2.0

Uplift 2.0: light powered kinetic sculpture with mesmerizing apparent translational motion due to rotation of a spiral element under glass and mounted on precision bearings. The rotation is propelled silently by a simple and elegant bidirectional motor- a disk shaped copper coil which interacts with an array of six neodymium magnets and powered by a single solar cell. The included hand held magnet allows one to select the direction of flow. A stunning creation for any windowsill by artist and inventor Tom Lawton. 

Lenticular Flame Kinetic Art

This vintage item sometimes found here: 
From eBay: Search NOW: Flicker Flame Toy
From Etsy: Search NOW: Flicker Flame Toy

See also my other lenticular physics toys. 

Lenticular Flame Kinetic Art: “cool candle” whimsical acrylic kinetic sculpture inspired by a vintage lenticular flicker toy from the 1970s. These flicker images are produced by tiny cylindrical lens arrayed in such a way that allows for multiple images to show depending on the angle of view.


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. 

Balance Stacking Sculpture

Another wonderful desing by BinDesign- get one here in black or natural wood:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: Bin Design Balancer Puzzle

Balance Stacking Sculpture: a series of torques in unstable equilibrium complete this Calder-esque structure. As each component is added its weighted end balances all the others before it, with the initial small piece weighing about a gram or so. Remove the end piece and the whole structure comes down. Another wonderful design by artist Bin Xu.

Photochromic UV Bracelets

Get this set here:
From eBay: BUY NOW: UV Color Change Bracelets

You may also want an awesome UV flashlight like this one:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: High Power UV Light

Check out this: Photochromic Frisbee

UV Color Changing Beads: the photochromic pigment molecules in the white beads actually change shape when struck by UV light, and the new shape alters their absorption properties such that they reflect brilliant colors. The color is temporary- when removed from UV exposure, room temperature thermal energy bumps the molecules back into their original configuration, and the color fades back to white in a few minutes. Here a UV flashlight reveals that each bracelet transforms to a different color.