Read up on: Silly putty

We all know about Silly Putty. We love Silly Putty. You know, stretching it, smashing it with a hammer, letting it sit on top of the heater and letting it melt all over the carpet- all that good stuff. But did you know that the background story is quite... silly? In 1943, James Wright, an engineer, was trying to create a synthetic (or artificial) rubber. He couldn't achieve the properties of rubber boots or tires, but he did achieve a funny little substance. Gooey, bouncey, and shatters with a hammer. He put his creation (later to be called Silly Putty) on the shelf. It didn't last too long. But a few years later, a salesman for the Dow Corning Corporation was using the putty to entertain his customers. One of them, in fact, became intrigued with the putty, and saw that it had the potential to be a new toy. In 1957, after being endorsed on the Howdy Doody Show, Silly putty became a toy fad.

There are polymers in silly putty. The polymers have covalent "bonds" within the molecules, but hydrogen bonds between them. The hydrogen bonds are pretty easilly broken. When small amounts of pressure are slowly applied to the putty, only a few of those bonds are broken, so the putty "flows". The reason why it flows is because it is classified as a "non-newtonian fluid". Non-newtonian fluids give you the creeps- they are like fluid but they have some solid properties. In a nutshell: When larger amounts of pressure are applied quickly, there are many bonds that break, causing the putty to shatter, tear or break. That just gives you a ball-park figure on how it works. Do a little research yourself, and you'll see that there are many cool things about it!

What you'll need:

  • Container w/ 55% Elmer's glue solution in water
  • Container w/ 16% Sodium Borate. (Borax Laundry Powder)
  • Small to Medium size styrofoam, Dixie or Solo cups (about 4, keep some spare.)
  • Wooden stirring sticks. A spoon, popsicle stick or toothpick should work.
  • Food colouring/coloring
  • Ziplock baggies

The Elmer's glue solution and the sodium borate are mixed in a 4:1 ratio using your stirring stick. Before it becomes thick, add food coloring. Keep stirring for 5 minutes, or until it becomes silly putty texture. Then, let it sit for 5-15 minutes. You can now play with and enjoy your Silly Putty! When done playing, remember to always keep it in the Ziplock baggie.

(CC) 2015 B.S. Vincent/Pocket Lint World.
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