Anybody can use a fidget spinner, or a stress ball, or some other piece of desk silliness to occupy idle hands during the course of their day. But it isn't quite so common for a desk toy to so fully engage inherent scientific curiosity as well.
Of course, keeping hands occupied while the brain stays engaged in "how does this even work" style thought is the big appeal of the Skill Flux Scientific Desk toy and Magnet Shield Bundle.
The process itself is incredibly simple. A marble-sized magnetic ball is dropped into the short segment of aluminum piping. But, rather than passing through at the ball's original rate of speed, the highly magnetic ball generates electrical current in the tube, which momentarily slows its descent before it passes through and feels the full effects of gravity again.
This odd occurrence is known as Lenz's Law, based on the work of the Russian physicist who discovered it over 200 years ago.
The video helps explain the phenomena at work here. But it doesn't take science to understand that watching, playing with, and feeling the sensation of this strange abnormality happening right in your hands is entrancing. As The Economist put it, "Watching this defiance of the laws of nature is undeniably mesmeric."
Even with no batteries and no electronics, the Skill Flux is a definite conversation starter. And the hypnotic nature of the process makes it easy to create your own mental games around catching or controlling the ball's fall.
Considering magnets do pose some safety issues, this set also comes with its own wooden magnet shield to keep the ball in check and allow you to safely place it anywhere without fear.
As for the tubes, their stackable engineering makes it possible to come up with more interesting scenarios when you add in extra tubing pieces.
Available now in red, grey, and white color schemes, the Skill Flux Scientific Desk Toy is now almost 20% off its regular price, making your total for this cool little exploration of true science just $80.95.
Prices subject to change.