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Magnetic Fluid Patterns by exploratorium: a dark ferromagnetic fluid, trapped in a small gap between two plates of glass, reacts under the influence of a powerful magnetic field in this exhibit at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Birefringence in Calcite: the speed of light in a calcite crystal depends on polarization- the refractive index is different depending on the polarization orientation of the light transmissionitted through it.

Poemotion: animation from ingenious and intricate Moiré pattern interference. Carefully align and slide the included transparent sheet of vertical lines and the amorphous images spring into sharp form and motion. A book of 31 images!

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb: no flame but instead emission spectra from excited neon gas due to the presence of a discharge electric current.

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 shows 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!

360° Animated Spinning Hologram: this 3D running horse animation is a prototype of the vDisk toy which features a photopolymer type reflective hologram, which interestingly, is computer rendered and digitally produced. Unlike photographs, holograms are recordings of the interference pattern of light waves.

The Levimoon: This detailed moon globe is an adjustable lamp that levitates! Charged through wireless induction via the base, the moon floats above the Earth, is illuminated from the inside to reveal the major features of the lunar surface, and will rotate when given a slight push.

Europium Doped Strontium Salt: green laser target. Most phosphorescent glow-in-the-dark substances are only excited by light in the ultraviolet wavelengths, however for this substance the lower green wavelength of 532 nm excites the phosphor to glow orange.

UV Fluid Flow Kaleidoscope: original glitter wand kaleidoscope made by Illusions back in the 1990s.

Revolution: vintage 2D magnetic levitation- permanent magnets can only produce static equilibrium along two dimensions- here a glass mirror constrains the third dimension, and makes for a nice bearing surface for rotation.

Lenz’s Law: a strong neodymium magnet falls slowly down a copper bus bar as though passing through a viscous liquid. Since magnetic fields pass through copper, magneview film reveals the location of the falling dipole magnet. Moving magnetic fields from the falling magnet produce electric currents in the copper. These currents then produce magnetic fields that have the opposite polarity to the initial field.

Vortices in a Kalliroscope: rheoscopic fluid reveals the intricate and beautiful turbulence induced in an enclosed fluid by rotation of the container.

Wobblo: curious kinetic art toy- a hollow plastic torus contains a rolling heavy steel ball within. The motions of the center of mass of the ball and torus combine dynamically- the resulting curious motion is related to the interplay between the exchange of kinetic and potential energy and conservation of angular momentum of the system.

Ferrofluid Magician: whimsical and wonderful physics toy from Taiwan. With a magnet in his hat (and a dove on his head).

Reflective Wind Spinner: this one translates rotating motion into a repeating expanding (or shrinking) circle.

Oil Drop Timer: immiscible fluids of different densities stay separate under gravity with the lightest density on top.

Magneview Film: tracking the motion of magnets. Four disk magnets, each with a different arrangement of North and South poles, leave a different characteristic trace.

Rocking Seagull Kinetic Art: counterbalanced seagull figures swing back and forth, each with a different period of oscillation in this vintage Otagiri sculpture from 1980.

The Swinging Sticks: kinetic art of coupled physical pendulums. This device was featured in the movie Iron Man II (sitting on the desk of Pepper Potts). Four AA batteries and a simple kicker circuit in the base gives a push to a magnet in the end of the large rod keeping the system in motion for up to two years!

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