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The How and Why of Newton's Cradles

clock October 25, 2011 12:19 by author Office Toy Guy

1458 Newton's Cradle 7 inch Black WoodThe Newtonian Demonstrator, known today as the Newton's Cradle, is a device that demonstrates the laws of conservation of momentum and energy. The concept was demonstrated centuries ago in France and used by Sir Isaac Newton when he developed the laws of physics.

How the Newton's Cradle works
When the first ball strikes the row of balls, the impact produces a shock wave that travels through the metal balls at the speed of sound. The speed of sound through steel is much faster (4699 m/s) than through air (300 m/s). The time for the shock wave to travel the short distance through the balls is too small for human perception. Neither the momentum nor energy is perfect in efficiency. Energy is lost in the suspending wires, friction of the surrounding air, and sound (the clicking of balls). The momentum degrades with each swing until near the end of oscillation the intermediate balls are swaying.

We have had customers ask why the balls don't clack back and forth forever in perpetual motion. It's because of the energy loss with each impact. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, there can never be a "net gain" of energy and therefore there cannot ever be a true "perpetual motion" device (note to self, make a perpetual motion device, sell it to the highest bidder, retire).

Geek Group - World's Largest Newton's CradleThe largest Newton's Cradle is over 20 feet tall. It was designed by Chris Boden and is located at The Geek Group home base in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The monster Newtonian demonstrator is made up of 7 bowling balls weighting 15 pounds each. The bowling balls are attached to metal cables and hung from trusses in the ceiling of a warehouse. The suspension cables are 20 feet long and the bowling balls hang 3 feet from the floor.

Why a Newton's Cradle?
Because they're fascinating to watch, make a cool sound, and provide kinetic entertainment without batteries! As it turns out, this little device has become among the most classic Desk Toys of all time. We sell tons of these (literally) and take them very seriously. If you want your own steel balls transferring energy at 4699 m/s, see our Newton's Cradles here.

Silly Putty, The Great American Mistake

clock October 18, 2011 14:08 by author Office Toy Guy

Silly Putty Museum Display Many products have been created or discovered by accident and Silly Putty might be one of the most popular and best selling mistakes of all time.

During World War II there was a shortage of rubber in the United States. The government funded research into synthetic rubber compounds in an attempt to solve this shortage. Silly Putty was created in 1943 during this pursuit. The new product had useful qualities: it bounced like rubber, stretched like taffy and had adhesive qualities; it also broke into pieces and had the ability to lift pencil marks off paper. However, Silly Putty was not the sought-after substitute for rubber.

Silly Putty was called Nutty Putty when the little pink blob made of silicone polymers packaged in an egg-shaped plastic container made its debut as a toy in 1949. Its sales soared to the top of the toy chart that year. In 1961, Silly Putty went worldwide. It even reached the Moon in 1968, courtesy of the Apollo 8 astronauts who used it to secure their tools in zero-gravity.

After its success as a toy, Silly Putty was found to be useful in medical and scientific fields. It is widely used by physical therapists for rehabilitative therapy of hand injuries and as a fidget item for stress reduction. A number of other brands have emerged which alter the material's properties offering different levels of resistance, color and size of the product. Some of the names it is marketed under are Power Putty, TheraPutty, Thinking Putty and Bouncing Putty.

To date, Silly Putty has sold over 300 million eggs. Crayola, LLC (formerly the Binney & Smith company), which also owns Crayola crayons, owns the trademark name Silly Putty and currently sells 20,000 units per day.

It doesn't look like this American icon has to worry about popularity as its unique qualities continue to provide fun, exercise and stress relief to users of all ages all over the world.

Image courtesy of Eugene Peretz.

Top 5 Office Gadgets

clock October 13, 2011 15:30 by author Office Toy Guy

Gadget is defined as "a small specialized mechanical or electronic device". People love gadgets in the workplace because they offer some character, color and stress relief to a busy day. Office gadgets offer an ideal holiday gift for your boss, coworkers or customers. Give out some office gadgets this year and you’ll be a holiday hero. To make your holiday shopping easier, we have built an entire category of Office Gadgets for you. Here are the top 5 Office Gadgets for the 2011 Holiday Season:


Gumby vs. Mr. Bill

clock October 12, 2011 15:15 by author Office Toy Guy

Who would win a battle between Gumby and Mr. Bill? Both are animated clay figures that made their first debut to the public on popular TV shows, both have made their way into feature length films, and both are immortalized as bendable figurines. We decided to collect the facts to predict the winner of this potentially famous battle.

Gumby Bendy Toy Name: Gumby
Debuted: August 1956
Creator: Art Clokey
Best Friend: Pokey
Nemeses: Blockheads
Claim to Fame: Gumby starred in his own television series, The Gumby Show, that aired from 1957 to 1967 and in 1988
Best Characteristic: Flexibility
Accomplishments: cameo appearance in 1987 film The Puppetoon Movie; 1995 feature length film Gumby I (aka Gumby: The Movie); 8 DVD collections (2000s); video game Gumby vs. the Astrobots (2005); appeared in campaign ads for Library of Congress (1994-1995) and Cheerios (late 1990s)

Mr. Bill Name: Mr. Bill
Debuted: February 28, 1976
Creator: Walter Williams
Best Friend: Spot (his dog)
Nemesis: Mr. Sluggo
Claim to Fame: Mr. Bill starred in several short sketches on the television show, Saturday Night Live from 1976 to 1980
Memorable Quotes: "Ohhhh noooooooooooooo...", "Perfectly awful!", "Stunningly bad!"
Accomplishments: 1986 live-action movie Mr. Bill's Real Life Adventures; 1998 television show Ohh No!!! Mr. Bill Presents; appeared in television ads for Pringles (1980s), an anti-drug campaign (1988), Pizza Hut (1990s), Subway (2008), and MasterCard (2008)

Based on the character's personality, history and popularity, Gumby wins the battle hands down. However, we believe it's all up to the circumstance and personal preference. Take the battle into your own hands to determine who you think is the real winner.

The History of National Boss Day

clock October 10, 2011 11:56 by author Office Toy Guy

Boss Day Gift

National Boss Day has traditionally been a day for employees to recognize and thank their supervisor or boss. It started in 1958 when Patricia Bays Haroski, then an employee at State Farm Insurance Company in Deerfield, Illinois, registered the holiday with the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Ms. Haroski's purpose was to designate a day to show appreciation for her boss and other bosses. She also hoped to improve the relationship between employees and supervisors. She believed young employees often do not realize the challenges bosses face in running a business. Ms. Haroski chose October 16 because it was her father's birthday, and he also happened to be her boss.

During the early years of National Boss Day observance, the holiday was mocked as Hallmark Holiday. In fact, Hallmark did not offer a Boss's Day card for sale until 1979. Recognition for Boss Day has grown tremendously in popularity and Hallmark responded by increasing the size of its National Boss Day card collection by 90 percent in 2007. National Boss Day has become an international celebration in recent years and now is observed in countries such as Australia and South Africa, in addition to the United States.

Image courtesy of Luz.

How Scary is Your Office?

clock October 5, 2011 16:01 by author Office Toy Guy

It’s the time of year where ghosts, witchesand goblins are making plans for their favorite day of the year, Halloween. Have you let them visit your desk yet?How Scary is Your Office?

Halloween isn’t just for children dressed as spooky (or sometimes adorable) creatures, going door-to-door asking for candy; you can have just as much fun at work! This year, bring the spirit of Halloween to the office. Here are some ideas for making your workplace "spooktacular"!

  • Decorate your desk or cubicle walls with a row full of smiling pumpkins
  • Host a number of spooky Halloween contests: Scariest Costume, Jack-o-Lantern Carving, Pumpkin Seed Spitting, and Best Decorated Desk
  • Hide fake giant spiders in your co-workers’ desk drawers
  • Ask each of your co-workers "Trick or Treat?" Give those who say "treat" a piece of candy from your Gumball Machine; pull a fun office prank on everyone else
  • Place some Bendable Halloween Characters in random places all over the office
  • Bring a large bowl of Halloween candy to share or bake a batch of Halloween cookies
  • Turn on some funky Halloween music and see how many Jack-O-Bop Wind-Up Toys you can get going at the same time

Adding a little Halloween spirit to your workplace can make your day a little more exciting and everyone a little happier. Try out some of our ideas and let us know how it goes!

Image courtesy of Elvia Dametto.

Your Guide to the New Halloween 2.0 at Work

clock October 1, 2011 10:34 by author Office Toy Guy

Halloween Tree at Work

Has anyone else noticed that Halloween is rapidly turning into Christmas in terms of celebrating the "season"? I drove my kids around last night to look at Halloween lights on houses. Remember when people only put out pumpkins and a few decorations? These days, we’re seeing full blown lights on the house and haunted scenes in the yard. Folks set up life-sized skeletons, mummies, monsters and graveyards. We went by one house that displayed a lifelike werewolf on the roof and a Psycho shower scene behind their front window. Talk about getting into the spirit. I can't decide if these people are cool or crazy, but either way, next year I'M IN.

Do you notice the growing amount of shelf space reserved for Halloween paraphernalia in the stores? Sure, there has always been candy and costumes. But today, the shelves are packed with all sorts of Halloween props and shenanigans. The entire month of October is dedicated to the last day of the month. Just like the entire month of December is geared towards Christmas day. Halloween is on a serious tear right now and I say bring it on.

This rapid adoption of Halloween spirit as the major contender to Christmas spirit started me thinking about what it means to people working in an office. Here are my predictions of what Halloween will be like in the coming years for the corporate world. I call these predictions Halloween 2.0 at work:

Halloween 1.0 - Plastic spiders on a chair
Halloween 2.0 - Real spiders in a drawer

Halloween 1.0 - Wear a costume on Halloween day
Halloween 2.0 - Wear costumes all throughout October

Halloween 1.0 - Dress up as a witch
Halloween 2.0 - Practice real witchcraft at your desk

Halloween 1.0 - Cute little happy Halloween cards from co-workers
Halloween 2.0 - Big Halloween bonus checks from management
                         (just kidding, that won't happen)

Halloween 1.0 - Collecting treats from your co-worker’s desk
Halloween 2.0 - Smashing pumpkins over your co-worker’s head

I hope this guide helps you be on the cutting edge of this booming holiday for years to come. What will Halloween 3.0 entail? Real chainsaws? Who's the boss now?!

Happy Halloween!

Spooky Wishes,
Bill Ross
The Office Toy Guy
We make work fun!

Image courtesy of Suzie T.

About Office Playground

phone: 800-458-1948

The Office Toy Guy is passionate about office toys and spending a little time playing at work. He also enjoys imaginary pinky wrestling (it’s similar to thumb wrestling but you use your pinky and you conduct matches in your mind against imaginary opponents), cooking, underwater speed-reading, massages, and an occasional lighthearted office prank. (He’s really the CEO of Office Playground!)

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