Timewaster Tuesday: MagnetBalls or BuckyBalls

I am easily distracted. I’m pretty sure that’s a common problem occurence among geeks. Just to illustrate how easily distracted I am, a friend of mine brought a bunch of little magnetic balls to karaoke one night (yes I karaoke, weekly, it’s awesome, don’t judge), and the whole time I was there, I pretty much played with them. So, when the husband and I saw them at PAX East for significantly less than you can find them online, we picked up two sets. Since then, well, let’s just attribute my lack of blogging last week partially to these, how about that! Okay, they weren’t the whole reason, but I think they contributed. 

So, what’s up with these little magnets? Well, they are small, magnetic circles with very, very, very strong magnets. When you get them stuck together properly, it takes a bit of effort to pull them apart. That means that they can be arranged in numerous forms that without the magnetic force gravity would easily not allow. So, you can stick them together to make fun designs. Like this random contraption.


Of course, being terribly math oriented, I went for the geometric shapes early on, and made a particular favorite. I’m sure if you look carefully (or think about it for a moment) you can figure out this one.


I discovered that the most stable configuration is rings of 6 and hexagons, probably because 6 magnets fit exactly around one. Then I made a few flat hexagons including one with alternating lines of gold and silver.


You can also use the magnets to create jewelry, although I’m not sure you would want to wear it out in the real world (I’m worried it would fall off and I’d lose some of them!). However, you can make strings like a chain and wrap pieces to make charms and rings and fancy hand wraps. They are actually even strong enough to use as earrings for a short time, although that hurts a bit.

There are a few more pics over on our brand spanking new flickr account

So, if you are easily amused and like either artsy creative things or mathematical pattern creating things, then these are definitely for you. I’m amazed I wrote this post instead of playing with them actually!

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March 2011
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