Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zero Gravity

I mentioned MAKESHOP in an earlier post. And in a comment I listed all those "science based" toys that I remembered from my youth which are still around.

One of the two which were a source of wonder to me in my youth, and which are no longer around, is the zero gravity toy (above). In this plastic frame, little plastic balls appeared to defy gravity and float in mid air. As I remember it was made in Israel, a country currently in the forefront of much scientific experimentation.

As it happened, the toy actually had as much to do with static electricity as with zero gravity. The apparent defiance of gravity came from the mutual repulsion of statically charged little plastic balls.

And if you look closely at the sides of the frame you will see that the balls are also trapped between layers of perspex so that the mutual repulsion drives them further upwards and keeps them apparently suspended in mid air.

The default position has all the balls resting at the bottom of the frame. So you shake the shite out of the frame to charge the balls. Just like rubbing an inflated baloon off your sleeve to make it stick to the ceiling, or a comb to make it pick up bits of paper.

God be with the days.

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