Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Geek Gift Guide: Non-Newtonian Sand

If you are looking for gifts for the geek in your life, look no further.  Over the next several days, I will post a handful of items that I, in my extreme nerdiness, deem to be some of this year's great geek gifts.  For this first day of Christmas, may I recommend SAND by Brookstone (or for the Europeans in the crowd, Kinetic Sand by Waba Fun).  These products are 98% sand and 2% polymer, resulting in a non-Newtonian sand substance... if that's not total geek fun, I don't know what is.  You can see from the YouTube vid posted by Waba Fun (below), that their product can behave like a doughy solid at times, but also like a grainy, almost liquidy pile of sand that slips through your fingers.  It all depends on how the substance is being used, just like some other more well known non-Newtonian substances, like ketchup in a bottle (stuck, solid-like in the bottle until you stick the butter knife in there to get it out, then all of a sudden it pours out like Niagara).  Or like cornstarch mixed with water, bouncing on a sub-woofer (runny liquid when at rest, but congealed semi-solid when smacked by the bass).  Or, like one of my favorite non-Newtonian solids: Silly Putty (pull it apart fast and it snaps apart like a karate master's board, pull it apart slow, and it's like that mozzarella on the first slice of pizza that, no matter how long it gets, still won't break).  In fact, these sand products are actually made using the same polymer that goes into silly putty (polydimethylsiloxane), which helps the sand to never dry out, and helps it clump together so clean-up is a breeze.  Enjoy!

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