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Physics Toy Store 09

Centripetal Spheres

Ball bearings with drilled holes are often hard to find. This 3/4 inch steel bearing is just the right size and mass to make a set of centripetal spheres. A brass sphere would also work well.

From Amazon: Steel Sphere, Brass Sphere

Vortex Coin Bank

Get one here:

From Educational Innovations: The Vortex Bank

Benton/Rainbow Hologram

Benton Hologram: also called a rainbow hologram which are often embossed on paper thin foil like this promotional image from the 1970s. A carefully positioned point source of light, such as a halogen desk lamp, reveals the 3D image in full. Rainbow holograms are commonly found on credit cards and forms of currency as a means of anti-counterfeit security, this hologram of a circuit board and magnifying glass (for the electronics manufacturer Cole Parmer) is a nice example of this type with a striking 3D effect. Amazing what manipulation of light interference can create. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get holograms like this one and many of the other items featured here on @physicsfun #bentonhologram #laser #physics #physicstoy #circuitboard #optics #interference #electromagnetism #diffraction #rainbowhologram #science #scienceisawesome

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Mostly a vintage item. Here are a few that I found available:

From Amazon: Rainbow Holograms

From eBay: Rainbow Holograms

Exothermic Crystallization Heat pack

Exothermic Crystallization Heat Pack: real-time instant crystallization of a supercooled solution. Solid sodium acetate melts at 137F (58C), but it will stay in liquid form as it cools to room temperature creating a supersaturated and supercooled state- the solution stays in the liquid form until a seed crystal, provided by clicking the metal disk, initiates the solidification. The resulting white crystal is actually quite hot; solid states have lower energy than liquid states and thus the difference in energy is given up as heat that raises the temperature back up to the melting temp, and you can see in the few seconds of the video that the temperature rises from 26C to 34C. This pack is reusable many times- just boil the pack until all the crystal is melted to reset. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get this and many other items featured on @physicsfun #thermodynamics #physics #chemistry #reaction #latentheat #physicstoy #crystal #supersaturated #supercooled #exothermic #heat #meltingpoint #sodiumacetate #seedcrystal #heatpack #science #scienceisawesome

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Get one here:

From Educational Innovations: Sodium Acetate Heat Pack


Copycoder: clever use of an array of cylindrical lenses to scramble and unscramble large font messages- a modern "secret code" toy. The refractive optics invert slivers of an image to encode or decode it. You can scramble an image by photocopying a message covered with the array plate, or go to copycoder.com and a program will scramble a message that you can print out to send to anyone that also has the lens array. Invented by Steve Ostler from the UK. Fun! ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get this and many of the items featured here on @physicsfun #copycoder #lens #lensarray #cylindrical #cylindricallens #optics #physics #physicstoy #secretcode #secretmessage #secretcodetoy #encryptiontoy #science #scienceisawesome

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Get one here:

From Mindsets: Copy Coder

Singing Bowl of Tibet

A wide variety fo singing bowls are available. Make sure to get a set with a cushion- the bowls don't "sing" well without one.

From Amazon: Singing Bowl

Newton's Cradle

Many, many versions to choose from:

From Amazon: Newton's Cradle

Magnetic Field Lines Sculpture

Magnetic Field Lines Sculpture: nails suspended by thin chain point in the direction of the magnetic field of a neodymium dipole magnet. Ferromagnetic substances (such as the iron in nails) become temporary magnets when in the presence of an external magnetic field. Here the nails are placed in the field of a powerful neodymium magnet. The top of the ball magnet is a south pole, so the tips of all the nails become north poles and actually repel each other. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get many of the items featured here on @physicsfun #magnets #magneticfield #magneticforce #physics #physicstoy #kineticart #ferromagnetism #neodymium #nails #science #art #steel #iron #scienceisawesome #Bfield

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The sculpture in the video is my first attempt and I hope to produce more. The sculpture is comprised of: nails, nonmagnetic necklace chain, a picture frame, and one spherical neodymium magnet. Here is a course for the neodymium magnet:

From Amazon: Neodymium Magnet Sphere

Swirl Around Top (version 2)

See the next video for a similar toy and kinks on where to purchase.

Iron Filings in Silicone Oil

Iron Filings in Silicone Oil Suspension: visualizing the invisible- the magnetic field lines around a horseshoe magnet. In the presence of a magnetic field, ferromagnetic materials (such as iron) temporarily become magnets. Here the iron filings become dipole magnets and link up and align like tiny compass needles to follow and reveal the magnetic field lines associated with the permanent magnet underneath. Viscous silicone oil temporarily keeps the iron particles suspended yet allows for rotation and repositioning under the influence of the magnetic field. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to obtain this device and many other items featured here on @physicsfun #physics #magnetic #magnetism #magneticfield #physicstoy #dipole #dipolefield #demonstration #silicone #physicsdemo #horseshoemagnet #electromagnetism #science #scienceisawesome

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Demonstration sets like this one are typically priced in the hundreds of dollars. This set is less than $50 with magnets and two viewers included:

From Amazon:3D Magnetic Field Demonstrator

Atomix: Kinetic Art

Unfortunately this vintage piece is out of production. Here is some information about the artist and this particular work:
Atomix by François Dallegret

Kinetic Art of Spheres on Inclines

Sometimes this vintage art piece can be found on eBay or Etsy- as of today there is one available on Etsy:

From Etsy: Cube Kinetic Art

Floating Hourglass Puzzle

Floating Hourglass Puzzle: famous physics puzzle- why does the hourglass not start rising right away? The glass only ascends after about half of the sand has transferred to the lower bulb. The hourglass is a normal glass timer, it is submersed in plain water, and the main tube has an inner diameter which is at least 2mm larger than the diameter of the glass. A simple physics property of the hourglass changes and explains this behavior. I'll post the answer in a few days. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get a version of this physics puzzle and many of the amazing items featured here on @physicsfun #physics #physicstoy #physicspuzzle #puzzle #buoyancy #hourglass #float #gravity #torque #force #friction #science #scienceisawesome #floatinghourglass

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The physics puzzle featured in the video was produced in the 1980s and is hard to find. Fortunately the folks at Grand Illusions Ltd. have created this new version of the famous puzzle:

From Grand Illusions Ltd.: Floating Hourglass Puzzle


Get one here:

From Educational Innovations: Magnetic Field Indicator

"Universe Wheel" Kinetic Art

Universe Wheel Kinetic Toy: a rotor rolls with magnetic connections to rails in the shape of a Möbius strip. A motor in the base rocks the structure keeping the rotor in motion continuously - on each pass the rotor flips and is either on the inside of the tracks or the outside. This toy is a fancy version of the Whee-Lo type toys featured in my previous post with physics of angular momentum, magnets, and rotational/ translational kinetic energy. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to buy many of the items featured here on @physicsfun #wheelo #physics #physicstoy #magnetism #magneticfield #phaselocking #rotationalinertia #inertia #kineticenergy #kineticart #science #toy #antiquetoy #universewheel #canyouimagine #throwback #throwbacktoy

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Unfortunately this item seems to be no longer in production, although the manufacturer, "Can You Imagine" still lists the Universe Wheel on their webpage wholesale catalog.

Similar magnetic rail spinning toys are available (see next video).


Many modern versions of this toy are available:

From Amazon: Magnetic Gyro Wheel Rail Twirler

Daruma Otoshi

Newtons's 1st Law in action! -- get this toy here:

From Amazon: Daruma Otoshi

Bottle, Hoop, and Nail Trick

Bottle, Hoop, and Nail Trick: with some practice a snap of the wrist removes the hoop and the nail falls straight into the bottle. Newton's 1st Law as seen in slow motion- a mass at rest tends to stay at rest. (Best to watch with sound/audio) Balancing the nail on the hoop ensures the nail is directly over the top of the bottle. The hoop is removed so quickly that it does not interact significantly with the sufficiently massive nail, and thus the nail remains over the mouth of the bottle so that gravity pulls it in. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get this and many other physics toys and tricks featured here on @physicsfun #iPhoneSloMo #250fps #physics #physicstoy #isaacnewton #Newtonsfirstlaw #bottlehoopnail #impulse #inertia #lawofinertia #science #scienceisawesome #MartinGardner #impulse

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The hoop used is just the inner circle of an embroidery hoop. Get one for a couple dollars here:

From Amazon: Wooden Hoop

The science writer Martin Gardner has published many books of physics tricks and simple but amazing science experiments like the one in this video. Highly recommended.

From Amazon: Martin Gardner's Science Magic: Tricks and Puzzles

Thermobile: Nitinol Wire Heat Engine

Here is a very similar model:

From Amazon: Nitinol Loop Heat Engine

and another version:

From Educational Innovations: Nitinol Wire Engine

Nitinol Memory Wire

Here is a similar demonstration sample, trained in the shape of a coil:

From Educational Innovations: Nitinol Wire Demo

Many shapes and applications are available here:
From Amazon: Nitinol Memory Wire

Viscoelastic Fluid: aka Silly Putty

Viscoelastic Fluid: nonNewtonian flow is demonstrated by this blob of Silly Putty- if force is applied over a short period of time the substance shows elastic properties (bounces like a superball), but if the force is applied slowly the substance flows like a viscous liquid (flattens under gravity over a few minutes as shown here). A very curious property. Mostly sold as a toy, Silly Putty was discovered after mixing boric acid with silicone oil during World War II in an attempt to find a rubber substitute. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get this and many of the amazing items featured here on @physicsfun #viscoelastic #nonnewtonian #fluiddynamics #nonnewtonianfluid #physics #physicstoy #elastic #dilatant #dilatantmaterial #science #viscosity #coefficientofrestitution #scienceisawesome

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Silly Putty's viscoelastic properties primarily come from the ingredient polydimethylsiloxane. This physics toy is inexpensive and still on the market everywhere:

From Amazon: Silly Putty

Single Surface Solids

Single Sided Solids on an Inclined Plane: octo-sphericon (pink), hexa-sphericon (orange), and regular sphericon (blue) are all unique solids that roll in such a way that every point on their surfaces come in contact with the plane. Solids from the sphericon family all have one side and two edges. Each sphericon is based on a regular polygon- the three featured here include an octagon, a hexagon, and a square (basic sphericon). Which will win a race down an incline? Watch to find out. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get these and many other curiosities featured here on @physicsfun #math #mathtoy #mathstoy #geometry #physics #physicstoy #sphericon #oloid #rolling #develops #science #scienceisawesome #developablesurface #bicone #geometricshapes

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Solids with one surface and two edges: sphericon, hexa-sphericon, octa-sphericon, available here:

From PuzzLab.com (Japan): Sphericons

Roger Kaufman has this wonderful page describing sphericons and the math behind them.

A similar object is the oloid. Handcrafted versions are available here:

From Helen's Stone & Wood Works (Etsy): Oloids

Aqua Drop Puzzle

Available in variety of designs and colors:

From Amazon: Aqua Drop Puzzle

Penultimate: Magnetic Levitation Pen

Available in red, blue, or black:

From Amazon: Penultimate Floating Pen

From eBay: Penultimate Floating Pen

Precession of a Gyroscope

This quality toy gyroscope can be found here:

From Amazon: Precision Gyroscope Toy

From eBay: Precision Gyroscope Toy

Hand Boiler

A variety of shapes and colors are available

From Educational Innovations: Hand Boiler

Balance Bird

Get a balance bird low-center-of-mass toy here:

From Educational Innovations: Balance Bird or Small Balance Birds

Versions of this toy in gold are hard to find. Here are versions with pyramids though:

From Amazon: Balance Bird on Pyramid

See the next post for a similar toy on a different theme...

Balance Pteranodon

Balance Pteranodon: weights in the forward wing tips create a center of mass below this pterosaur's beak- making a system that can rotate and oscillate about a stable equilibrium condition. No magnets used or needed for this physics! Usually this toy is found in the form of a bird (direct dinosaur descendent). Pterosaurs are not dinosaurs, but are the largest animals to ever fly, and powered flight has only evolved four times: bats, birds, pterosaurs, and insects- in that order. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile to get this toy pteranodon and other physics toys. #equilibrium #centerofmass #physics #physicstoy #balance #balancebird #balancetoy #pteranodon #pterosaur #rotationalinertia #science #scienceisawesome #stableequilibrium

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Get this fun and unique balance toy here:

From Amazon: Balancing Pteranodon

Widmanstatten Pattern in Gibeon Meteorite

The Gibeon meteor must have been spectacular when it hit the Earth long ago, many fragments have been recovered. Beautiful etched slabs of different shapes and sizes are available- own a piece of the sky!

From Amazon: Gibeon Meteorite

From eBay:Gibeon Meteorite

Get the caliper type display stand here:

From Amazon: Caliper Stand

Polage Kinetic Polarization Art

Polage: art with polarized light using polarizing sheets and cellulose to create changing forms and colors. This piece was created by Austine Wood Comarow- the main developer of this art form- and this piece is signed "Swallowtail 1987 18/75". Light has an orientation, denoted as polarization, and a polarizing filter can be used to block certain orientations. The colors in polage come from how the molecular structure of plastics can rotate the polarization of any light that passes through- but only light corresponding to yellows and greens gets rotated in plastic, reds and blues not so much. Polage uses different layers of plastic to rotate the light, and then polarizing filters are added to allow only certain frequencies (colors) of light through. Rotation of the filter allows the artist to incorporate more than one image and produce colorful metamorphosis. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for more info about the physics of polage and where to get art featured on @physicsfun #polarizer #polarizedlight #light #optics #physics #physicstoy #kineticart #electromagnetism #polage #science #linearpolarization #scienceisawesome #AustineWood @austine_studio

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Austine has an on-line gallery of here amazing work. Click on any image to see a short video of the polage in action:

From Austine Studios: Polarized Light Art

Sometimes Austine's work can be found on eBay:

From eBay: Polage by Austine

Here is a very nice discussion about polarization that pertains to Polage: Experiments With Polarized Light by Donald E. Simanek

See the next video and links for more physics fun with polarization and for supplies to make your own polage.

Butterfly Waveplate Polarization Demo

This kit has everything needed to make your own polarization art:

From Educational Innovations: Polarizing Film Kit

The kit also includes a birefringent crystal, colorful optically active mica sheets, and a polarimetry demo that reveals when structures are under stress. A great value for so much physics fun!

Spherical Dice

A must for any die/dice collectors:

From Amazon: Spherical Dice
See the following videos and links for more dice physics and math fun

120 Sided Dice:

120 Sided Fair Dice: mathematically this die has the maximum possible number of sides with equal area. Two mathematicians, Robert Fathauer and Henry Segerman, realized that oddly named regular polyhedron (disdyakis triacontahedron) had the needed geometry to make a 120 sided fair die. Like the familiar 6 sided die, the d120 has the following properties: every side must have equal area and the numbers on parallel sides (top and bottom) must sum to the same number. The inventors admit that they do not have any suggested use for these dice- they made them purely because mathematically it was possible to do! ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get this and many other physics toys. #mathtoy #mathstoys #physics #physicstoy #geometry #mathfun #polyhedron #d120 #dice #probability #disdyakistriacontahedron #dicelab #mathartfun #science #scienceisawesome

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Available here:

From Amazon: 120-sided dice

Wikipedia has the details on this unique polyhedron: Disdyakis Triacontahedron

An article in the New Yorker magazine about the inventors, Robert Fathauer and Henry Segerman, and some of the other interesting dice they have created.

Go First Dice

Go First Dice: a set of 4 dodecahedral dice with an amazing and useful mathematical property. Say you and 3 friends wish to play a game and want an unbiased way to determine the order of play- if you use these dice there will never be a tie, and the odds to take 1st place are exactly the same no matter the color. More remarkably the odds of getting place 2 through 4 are the same as getting 1st place! This property is called permutation-fair, and for up to 4 players only possible with 12 sided dice. Invented by Eric Harshburger and Robert Ford. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for more information and possible sources. #math #mathtoy #mathstoy #geometry #physics #physicstoy #fairdice #isohedral #polyhedra #gofirstdice #dodecahedron #probability #permutation #d12 #dice #science #scienceisawesome

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Eric Harshbarger has the details on his invention: Go First Dice
Get some here

From Amazon: Go First Dice

The Swinging Sticks

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) and I've been contacted by the seller of The Swinging Sticks, @GeelongShopcom, to share a special coupon code with my followers that will provide free worldwide shipping and a $10 USD discount on any purchases of The Swinging Sticks. Use the coupon code “PHYSICSFUN” on their website www.GeelongShop.com to take advantage of this special offer. The physics magic of this device is the essence of chaotic motion- the placement of the rod’s axes of rotation are engineered to exhibit the widest range of interesting motion. 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! ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for more information and how to order with this special coupon offer. #physics #physicstoy #pendulum #coupledpendulums #coupledharmonicoscillator #harmonic #physicalpendulum #chaos #chaostheory #nonlinear #nonlineardynamics #strangeattractor #science #kinetic #kineticart #swingingsticks #theswingingsticks #ironman #pepperpotts #scienceisawesome

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@GeelongShopcom has kindly offered to share a special coupon code with all of my Instagram followers. The code below will provide free worldwide shipping and $10 USD discount on any purchases of The Swinging Sticks from their website:

From GeelongShop.com: The Swinging Sticks
Use this Coupon code: PHYSICSFUN

Rocking Seagull Kinetic Art

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. Each seagull + wire + weight structure is a type of pendulum (physical pendulum) and the period of swing is primarily related to the length of the pendulum with respect to its axis of rotation (pivot point)- note that the far seagull (shortest) completes two cycles in the time it takes the center seagull (tallest) to complete one back and forth. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get kinetic sculptures like this and many of the other items featured here on @physicsfun #physics #physicstoy #harmonic #harmonicmotion #sho #simpleharmonicmotion #oscillator #kineticart #otagiri #seagull #pendulum #physicalpendulum #science #scienceisawesome

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These vintage kinetic sculptures are often available on eBay. As of the date of this post a version of this swinging pendulum sculpture is available, but with a sail boat theme instead of seagulls:

Follow this link to see all the Otagiri art curently available.
From eBay: Otagiri Kinetic Art

Precession of a Gyroscope

Get a gyroscope, just like the one in the video, here:

From Educational Innovations: Classic Gyroscope

Pentakis Geometric Kaleidoscope

This item is hard to find, but I believe it is in stock here:

From AHA in Zurich: Pentakis

More kaleidoscopes below!

UV Fluid Flow Kaleidoscope

UV Fluid Flow Kaleidoscope: original glitter wand kaleidoscope made by Illusions back in the 1990s. Intricate geometry from multiple reflections coupled with the viscous fluid motion of the glitter produces this psychedelic kinetic art. Under the illumination of a UV light this version takes it to the next level featuring fluorescent pieces and phosphorescent stars in the fluid of the wand. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile to find where to get kaleidoscopes like this and many other physics toys. #Kaleidoscope #kaleidoscopic #physics #reflect #glitterwand #physicstoy #psychedelic #kineticart #glitterstick #science #mirror #symmetry #math #mathtoy #geometry #glitterstick #UV #ultraviolet #blacklight #glowinthedark #scienceisawesome

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These dynamic kaleidoscopes are still in production:

From Amazon:Kaleidoscope with Glitter Wand or from this selection including a smaller version: Liquid Motion Kaleidoscopes

Volumes of Constant Width

Volumes of Constant Width: these shapes have constant diameter no matter their orientation and will roll like spheres between two planes- note how the acrylic plate stays parallel to the table top. These three solids are Meissner tetrahedra which are based on the Reuleaux triangle- and are the 3D version of my post on 8/31. Meissner tetrahedra are conjectured to be the smallest volume that can have a constant diameter and act like spheres in this way. Once again the physical representation of awesome math seen here was produced by Maths Gear, owned and operated by Matt Parker and Steve Mould. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to get these and many other math and physics toys featured here on @physicsfun @festivalofthespokennerd #maths #mathsgear #math #mathtoy #mathstoy #VolumesofConstantWidth #coolmath #shapeofconstantwidth #reuleaux #meissner #meissnertetrahedra #tetrahedra #tetrahedron #reuleauxtriangle #physics #physicstoy #geometry #orbiform #convex #polyhedron #science #scienceisawesome

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The only shop where you can buy Meissner Tetrahedra

From Maths Gear: Volumes of Constant Width

Eames Era Kinetic Art

These pieces can be found on eBay:

From eBay: Laurids Lonborg Kinetic Art

And from Etsy: Art 1, Art 2, Art 3

Newton's Yo-Yo

Great for the physics birthday party! Get some here:

From Educational Innovations: Newtons Kinetic Yoyo

Magni-Orb Kinetic Art

Magni-Orb: kinetic art as oscillations about a magnetic equilibrium point. The base and sphere are carved from rosewood and have strong magnets embedded within them that produce an attraction. If the sphere is given some initial rotation it will exhibit complex orbits as the energy trades back and forth between potential energy and kinetic energy. The motion eventually damps out due to friction. A creation by Sven Petersen and imported by SAAP Denmark circa 1970. ➡️ Follow the link in my profile for info on where to buy this and many other curiosities featured here on @physicsfun #oscillations #equilibrium #stableequilibrium #physics #physicstoy #kineticart #art #SAAP #MagniOrb #rosewood #magnets #magnetism #magneticfield #magneticattraction #dipole #1970 #equillibriumpoint #science #scienceisawesome

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This 1970s vintage art can be found on Etsy

From Etsy: here Sven Peterson Art 1 and here Sven Peterson Art 2

Within two days the above items were sold. I will update this entry if I come across more listings!

Balance Butterflies

These reproductions were made by the Franz-Josef Holler company of Munich, Germany and depict Victorian-era illustrations of moths, dragonflies, and butterflies. Unfortunately this box set is out of print but can often be found on eBay or Etsy. Here is the inimitable Tim Rowett describing this physics toy: youtube videos of Victorian-era physics toys.

Of course this toy is a great home craft for all ages: card stock and some flat weights such as coins or washers is all you need: DIY balance butterfly

Jitter Ring

Although out of production these are still available here:

From Amazon: Jitter Ring

Click here for more:

Physics Toys,


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