Sunday, July 13, 2008

Attractive ideas

My slightly demented australian friend Nick Martin, builder of nasty robots (and fortunately for the world, relatively small ones), has given me two suggestions that appear promising:

1) Play with some of the rare-earth magnetic building toy sticks; their interactions as they approach each other should be visually interesting.  I also have some spherical rare-earth magnets lying around somewhere, but they are insanely strong, and if I recall correctly, the force between two of these little bastards is inverse 4th power -- but what about one of them along with a ball-bearing?  Is that going to approximate inverse-squared?  If so, they might orbit each other!

2) Fun with a plastic slinky.  Nick suggests stretching out the slinky, releasing one end, and then releasing the other just as the slinky approaches full compression.  The dynamics might be very interesting.

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