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zero-gravity executive desk toys

In space, no one can hear the click-clack of that gizmo with the metal balls on wires.
  [vote for,

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?

Clopedion, Mar 03 2000

zero gravity water balloons http://microgravity...ov/balloon/blob.htm
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.
cosma, Mar 04 2000

       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.
egnor, Mar 05 2000

       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>
urbanmatador, Mar 24 2000

       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.
KellyMC, May 23 2000

       We already use massive big hairdryers to vector animals about us. And to dry them.
eehen, Jul 13 2000


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