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What sorts of executive desk toys can one expect when offices move into space?
Clearly, the little gizmo with the balls on wires would need to be changed, as would those pendulum-sorts of things that swing indefinitely because of magnets in the base.
One of the first concerns is containment-
though it would be neat to simply bounce a superball around the walls of your office, it would also be somewhat difficult to clean up afterwards. A possibility is to set up air currents in an area so that small objects in that area dance around; however, if the objects were to escape, it could again prove difficult to retrieve them.
A second concern is noise- since, in all likelihood, the walls, floor, and ceiling of the office would have other offices on the other side of them, we can't have things hitting the walls too hard.
Perhaps the easiest to imagine are the simplest; a ball in a transparent box would bounce around nicely, and a container of water would have similar interesting properties, but do they look sufficiently executive?
An interesting one is to fasten two magnets to strings on opposite walls, so that two magnets, attracting each other, would hang, strings taut, in the middle of the room, perhaps an inch or two apart. The problem is again containment- if the walls are magnetic and the magnets get loose, or if simply the magnets get loose, it could create a minor mess. Moreover, I have no idea what the physics of it would be- how would it move?
Any other suggestions?
zero gravity water balloons
Don't miss the videos. [rmutt, Mar 03 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]
||Mobile moved by light pressure would be
keen. Even in zero-g you'd need very
low-friction components, though.
Actually, at least at the Exploratorium
you can already buy something which
_looks_ like a horizontal windmill turned
by light pressure, but really works
thermally. It'd still go in zero-g, now that
I think about it.
||A whole genre of normal desk toys
is designed to provide the
illusion of weightlessness. In
zero-G, the truly swank offices
will spare no effort to provide
the seamless illusion of gravity...
||So, maybe you'd have a "waterfall"
that really operates by
electrostatic forces, or a pendulum
that's carefully operated by magnets
to achieve just the right swing as if
it were under normal gravity.
||actually, this works on earth. in a theatre i worked at, we has big magnets on strings to collect loose screws with. we'd store them by tying the string to the shelf, and letting them dangle upwards towards the metal air ducts. <grin>
||A while back, I was watching NASATV (I don't have cable) and they had an program intended for use in schools in which Shuttle astronauts played with various toys to demonstrate the physics of zero-G. They did yo-yo's, wind-up frogs, klackers, etc.
||We already use massive big hairdryers to vector animals about us. And to dry them.