Silly for Silly Putty
By Joan Whetzel
From its creation in a science lab, to its introduction in toy stores in 1950, all the way through its addition to the Smithsonian until today, Silly Putty® has had a colorful history. After 62 year of serious play time, Silly Putty can be considered a classic American toy.
What Is Silly Putty?
Silly Putty is a silicone based polymer. It is extremely stretchy, bounces well, easily moldable, and keeps its shape when left to rest. The invention of Silly Putty is attributed James Wright, a General Electric researcher, though others have also claimed the title of inventor. It was discovered in the lab while the scientists were looking for a suitable substitute for rubber, which was in short supply during World War II.
How It Works and How It's Used
Silly putty is elastic enough to stretch it without it breaking. It can also be broken away into pieces. When rolled into a ball shape it can be bounced higher than a bouncy ball, yet if molded into a huge ball (by combining several containers of silly putty), and dropped from a height of 2 or more stories, the ball of Silly Putty will not bounce, but will instead blow apart (see the video below - "Silly Putty Drop, 2009"). One experiment shows how Silly Putty will float under some circumstances, but not under other conditions. For instance, if the Silly Putty is molded into a boat-shape, or simply placed into the egg-shaped container, it will float. On the other hand, if it's molded into a ball shape, it sinks. Check out more experiments on the Silly putty website at: http://sillyputty.com/silly_science/science_float.htm
Silly Putty makes a pretty decent adhesive, and will lift off newspaper ink, whether petroleum based or soy based ink. The petroleum based newspaper ink images can be transferred to another surface, with some potential distortion from stretching and handling the Silly Putty. Silly putty has been employed for many other purposes as well. Around the house it can lift dirt, lint, ink and pet hair. It has uses in some fields of science as well. physical therapists use it to increase hand strength following injuries, in the field of psychology for stress relief, and by astronauts in space to fasten their tools in place in the zero-gravity environment. Even some hobbyists use Silly Putty for masking flaws in their models before painting them.
Silly Silly-Putty Facts
· Silly putty can be dissolved in alcohol, but it won't retain its original properties once the alcohol evaporates.
· Silly Putty sticks to hair and clothing like bubble gum and can only be removed with something like an alcohol based hand sanitizer or WD-40®.
· Silly Putty is combustible, and will burn slowly with a bright white flame.
· Microwaving Silly Putty for about 3 minutes makes it sticky. It returns to its original state upon cooling.
· Baking Silly Putty at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes causes it to give off poisonous fumes and leaves a combination of dried and sticky putty on the baking sheet.
· Immersing Silly Putty in hot water makes it softer, which will in turn, make it melt more quickly. The Silly Putty goes back to its usual viscosity, after a long period of time out of the water.
Check out the Silly Putty Website @: http://sillyputty.com/default.htm for more fun facts, experiments and information about Silly Putty