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Silly Putty (originally called nutty putty) is a silicone plastic "clay" made with silicone oil and boric acid. , sold as a toy for children by Binney & Smith Inc.. It was created as a scientific accident when scientists in the United States were trying to find a replacement for rubber during World War II.
Silly Putty is sold as a 0.47 oz (13 g) piece of plastic clay inside an egg-shaped plastic container. It is an example of an inorganic plastic (polymer). It has many unusual characteristics. When pressed on comics or other newspaper pages, the loose ink transfers to the Silly Putty, which is then able to be stretched out. It bounces, showing its rubber qualities. It breaks when you give it a sharp blow. It can flow like a liquid when it is slowly stretched and will "melt" into a puddle over a long enough period of time, and so shows properties of non-newtonian liquids that can act as both a solid and a liquid. Slime is another toy with similar properties.
Silly Putty History
Silly Putty was invented by accident during World War II. The U.S. government needed an artificial rubber substitute. James Wright had a material that came close, but it easily melted and could not hold its shape, so it was not pursued any further. A toy store owner, Ruth Fallgatter got access to the material and started carrying it in her toy shop. After she lost interest in the product, Peter Hodgson later took it over and started marketing it. Hodgson called it "Silly Putty" and began packaging it in plastic eggs as part of an Easter holiday promotion. It took a while for Silly Putty to get popular after TV ads were created for it that are considered to be one of the first tv commercials for kids. It has since become one of the best selling toys of all time. In 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts even took Silly Putty to lunar orbit with them and used it to hold down tools in zero gravity.
- Explanations from the Official Website of Silly Putty
- Full story at MIT's Invention Dimension: Silly Putty page
- Various scientific experiments done with Silicone Putty
- American Chemical Society "What's that stuff?" page about Silly Putty
- Dropping a 50lb beach ball-sized sphere of Silly Putty off a parking garage (pics and video)