Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rotapult - an astonishing machine by Brad Litwin

I don't have words for how cool this kinetic sculpture is; just watch the video.

See more sculptures by Brad Litwin on his web site.

[ Thanks Dave! ]


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hand-cranked Wimshurst electrostatic generator

Hand-cranked Wimshurst electrostatic generator
For those you that need to see high-voltage sparks early and often, I direct your attention to this affordable hand-cranked Wimshurst generator.

From the product description:
This is Lethan Corporations classic best-selling economy Wimshurst machine that produces large static electric sparks for a terrific demonstration. No assembly required, simply attach the hand crank, begin cranking, and watch in wonder as the sparks fly. Instruction guide and helpful hints are included with each unit.

Here's a link to Amazon's page for this Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator



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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Interesting repelling magnets on spinning wheels

I don't read (or speak) Japanese, but I think what we are looking at in this video are two spoked wheels with magnets on the ends -- each wheel having the opposite pole from the other. Some interesting and unexpected motions result!

Amazon's very cool Industrial & Scientific section has a huge selection of magnets if you are inclined to do some experimenting of your own.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

H-Racer car uses solar generated hydrogen fuel

H-Racer car and solar hydrogen fuel station
This little toy car uses a hydrogen fuel cell for power. To create hydrogen fuel for the car you just add water to the station's tank and let the solar panel do its job, converting the water to oxygen and hydrogen. No batteries. You have to love that. The H-Racer will run for about 4 minutes on a full tank of hydrogen.

Here's a link to the H-Racer & Hydrogen Fuel Station


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Monday, December 28, 2009

Snap Circuits Extreme 750 with computer interface

Snap Circuits Extreme 750 with computer interface
Snap Circuits Extreme is Elenco's largest set of snap-together circuits featuring 750 experiments -- including 73 computer interface experiments. The kit covers electromagnets, strobe lights, transistor AM Radio, solar power, and vibration switches in addition to all the other experiments included in their smaller kits such as the SC-100, SC-300, and SC-500.

Here's the link to Elenco Electronics Snap Circuits Extreme SC-750


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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Levitron - floating top supported by magnets

Levitron cherry wood floating top gizmo
The Levitron top floats in space -- supported only by magnetic waves and the balance imparted by the spinning top. This is the upscale version of the Levitron featuring a cherry wood housing and brass leveling legs. Very nice.

From the product description
Classiest Levitron Anti-Gravity Top - Elegant, wood housing with brass-tone leveling legs. Unique base design amazes onlookers as the high-flying top levitates mysteriously above the opening in the center! Strong magnetic forces hold the top and lifter plate securely in place for easy carrying and storage. A Self-Starter is highly recommended for purchase with Leviton Cherry Wood. Ease in setting the top is essential for not damaging the elegant cherry wood.

Here's the link to the Levitron in cherry wood and brass.


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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sleek Stirling engine locomobile kit

Here is a very attractive Stirling engine kit. Stirling engines, you may recall, are powered by the expansion and compression of air.

From the engine kit description:
The finished engine is fueled by an alcohol burner that heats the front of the glass tube, causing the air inside to expand and contract and push the piston toward the gears. The piston is connected to a system of flywheels and pulleys that exert reciprocal force on the piston, causing it to move back and forth. The energy produced by the desktop engine can be harnessed to spin the integrated fan, illuminate the attached light bulb, and rotate the rear wheels, propelling the locomobile forward. Assembles in two to three hours.

Here is the link for the The Stirling Engine Locomobile.


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit

The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit
Here is a neat combination kit featuring interesting experiments with magnets.

From the item description:
The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit is chock full of great things which will help you explore magnetism. You'll learn about magnet properties and strength. You'll build a magnetic pendulum and observe oscillations. You'll enjoy seemingly to defy gravity as you achieve magnetic equilibrium and balance magnets in weird ways. And all the while, you'll be learning about the properties and wonders of magnets. Oh, all the while, the Magnet Levitation Activity Kit will be ramping up your knowledge and experience with magnets so you can build the final project: a model maglev train.

Here is the link for the The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit.


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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Zecar - Toy Car with Mechanical Flywheel

Zecar  - Toy Car with Mechanical Flywheel
The environmentally-friendly Zecar toy car needs no batteries. The reason is that this little stainless steel car has an internal flywheel to store energy. Once in motion, the Zecar flywheel car has a fair amount of torque and can roll or climb over small obstacles.

Part of the profit from Zecar goes towards the reforestation project in Brazil. That's pretty cool.

Here's where you can get order your own Zecar Flywheel Toy Car.


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Monday, August 03, 2009

Magic Penny Magnet Kit

Magic Penny Magnet Kit
British pennies have a property US pennies don't - they are magnetic. This Magic Penny Magnet Kit come with everything you need to do some cool tricks with these magnetic coins.

From the product description:
The Magic Penny Magnet Kit has everything you need to do make pennies spin at 1,000 revolutions per minute, build rim-standing sculptures and levitating pyramids, move pennies up ramps and over bridges as if by magic, and much, much more. Over 30 projects await you.

Here is a link for more info on the Magic Penny Magnet Kit


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Decoding the Heavens: Antikythera mechanism


Book - Decoding the Heavens: Antikythera mechanism
Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets is about the the Antikythera mechanism a mysterious and sophisticated mechanical device recovered in 1901 from an ancient Mediterranean shipwreck. It is now thought to have been built about 150 - 100 BC and represents the first known analog computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It's an astonishing piece of ancient mechanical technology with a fascinating history.

From the Publishers Weekly
Marchant, editor of New Science, relates the century-long struggle of competing amateurs and scientists to understand the secrets of a 2000-year-old clock-like mechanism found in 1901 by Greek divers off the coast of Antikythera, a small island near Tunisia. With new research and interviews, Marchant goes behind the scenes of the National Museum in Athens, which zealously guarded the treasure while overlooking its importance; examines the significant contributions of a London Science Museum assistant curator who spent more than 30 years building models of the device; and the 2006 discoveries made by a group of modern researchers using state-of-the-art X-ray. Beneath its ancient, calcified surfaces they found "delicate cogwheels of all sizes" with perfectly formed triangular teeth, astronomical inscriptions "crammed onto every surviving surface," and a 223-tooth manually-operated turntable that guides the device. Variously described as a calendar computer, a planetarium and an eclipse predictor,Marchant gives clear explanations of the questions and topics involved, including Greek astronomy and clockwork mechanisms. For all they've learned, however, the Antikythera mechanism still retains secrets that may reveal unknown connections between modern and ancient technology; this globe-trotting, era-spanning mystery should absorb armchair scientists of all kinds.

Here is a link for more information on the book Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Galileo Gravitator with four different floating planets

Galileo Gravitator with four different floating planets
This is an attractive magnetic planet levitation device. Well...model planets, anyway. You get the idea.

From the product description
This unique, eye-catching model depicts celestial gravitation and comes complete with four spheres, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the Moon. Just place the planet of your choice directly below the gravitational source and watch it float and spin in mid-air. The Gravitator glows beautifully in the dark, creating a radiant nighttime conversation piece or a handsome nightlight, while the Antique Gold frame will embellish any desk, table or bookcase.

Here's a link to the Galileo Gravitator with four floating planets


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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Physics equivalent to the class chemistry set

Thames & Kosmos Physics Workshop
Here is the long overdue equivalent to the classic chemistry set: the Physics Workshop set for learning the fundamental laws of mechanical physics in a hands-on way.

Using the 64-page full-color instruction book to build 36 models of machines and then conduct 37 experiments with the models you've built.

You can start by experimenting with simple machines: gears, levers, screws, inclined planes, pulleys, wheels and axles to understand fundamental physics. Then you can build small models of a crane, sail car, pinball game, windmill, wind-powered generator, pendulum clock, hammer machine, centrifuge, scale and many others.

Aimed at ages ages 8 and up, the Physics Workshop requires the addition of one "C" type battery.

Here is the link to the Thames & Kosmos Physics Workshop.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little Lab Physics - learning mechanical physics

Little Lab Physics - learning mechanical physics
Here's a nice 50-piece building set that teaches the principles of simple mechanical physics by building gears, levers and pulleys.

The Little Lab Physics kit contains an pictorial instructional booklet (in both English and Spanish). The kit is intended for ages 5 and up. Way up!

Here's the product page for the Little Lab Physics available from ThinkGeek.com.



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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Isaac Newton's great idea told in whirligig form

There can be no doubt: artist Ben Thal has taken whirligigs to a new level -- many having up to 30 moving parts and multiple actions. The whirligig shown here depicts Sir Isaac Newton's epiphany regarding gravity in animated wind-powered 3-dimensional form. Wow.

To learn more about the remarkable man behind this and other fantastic creations check out this great profile on him: Spin Doctor -- Former Surgeon Ben Thal Builds Humor Into His Witty, Whimsical Whirligigs.


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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Working replica of the Antikythera mechanism

Working replica of the Antikythera mechanism
A British museum curator has built a working replica of the Antikythera mechanism -- a 2,000 year old machine found off the coast of Greece in 1902.

The Antikythera mechanism was used to track the movements of planetary bodies (including their various eccentricities) as well as for determining the dates for Olympic games.

Here's a full article on the working Antikythera reproduction: World's First Computer Rebuilt, Rebooted After 2,000 Years.

For even more information on this device, check out the book called Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer.



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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Milestones in Science - DIY Great Experiments

Milestones in Science
When I was a lad, science seemed, lamentably, mostly a series of facts and formulas that didn't really convey anything about the times, the world, or the minds from which it came. This is one reason I ended up studying the history of science rather than science itself. Here is a well-conceived kit that attempts to walk the new scientist through the great experiments of history. I may well treat myself to this kit to learn first-hand that which I have learned second-hand.

From the product description:
Milestones in Science combines history and science in a fun, hands-on way. Children learn about famous scientists and inventors while reproducing 100 of their most significant experiments. Beautifully illustrated 96-page book walks junior scientists through a world of microelectronics, atoms, light, magnetism, and much more. Covers more than 140 scientists and civilizations. Made in Germany and includes 95 pieces. Requires one "9V" battery. (Age 10+)


Here is where you can order Milestones in Science.

For the more mature and readerly with and less experimental bent, I cannot recommend highly enough A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hand-Cranked Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator

Hand-Cranned Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator
This working model of a Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator is mounted on a wooden base and stands 15" tall.

The Wimhurst type of generator consists of two circular plastic plates, which rotate in opposite directions by a hand-cranked belt drive mechanism. On each disc are pieces of metal foil, which both generate and carry small charges of electricity. Brushes on the front and back distribute the charges to a Leyden Jar, which stores the charge like a modern capacitor.

As the plastic discs revolve, a high voltage spark will jump between the electrodes when they are brought close together. Cool!

Here is the Wimshurst Electrostatic Generator available at Edmund Scientifics.

If you would rather build your own Wimshurst generator you will want the book: Homemade Lightning: Creative Experiments in Electricity.


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