So, here’s the story. I was browsing Amazon’s product recommendations when I came across this thing called “Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty.”
Okay, I’ll admit it. Even though I’m a grown-up, I needed to satisfy the science geek within me. Seriously, I can’t pass up something with “thinking putty” in the product title.
Specifically, this review focuses on the “Strange Attractor” putty. According to the product description:
Strange attractor is the name of a mathematical equation that is commonly part of chaos theory. This equation creates a fractal—a never ending, non-repeating pattern within a dynamic system. Basically, a strange attractor has a mind of its own and creates beautiful patterns in design, art, and nature.
In my opinion, this connection between mathematics and thinking putty is a bit farfetched. Of course, “strange attractor” is a pun referring to the toy’s magnetic characteristic. However, I think it’s somewhat of a cheap marketing ploy.
But we’re not here for the puns…
I had the privilege of testing this product myself. For the most part, the magnetic thinking putty works as described. However, the long-span reaction doesn’t work as described. This is a fluid-type reaction where the putty smoothes out and looks like a little droplet.
When testing this reaction with a small glob, the putty never actually smoothes out. In fact, after about one week, my fingerprint remained. Even so, the glob of thinking putty spread out rather well. After some thought, I concluded that the issue may be due to the added magnetic properties, which can reduce the liquid reaction state.
Just as a warning: this thinking putty has “choking hazard” written all over it (not literally). So don’t give this to a small child without adult supervision!
Overall, the product is a cool way to learn about magnetism and thixotropic substances. (See What is Slime? for more details).
From my observations, the putty holds ferrous particles in suspension, giving the product magnetic properties. There seems to be no reduction in magnetism after about 3 weeks of repeated magnetization and demagnetization.
In the first few days of owning this thinking putty, I noticed that the product tends to release ferrous particles. Therefore, I recommend passing the included magnet over your hands and washing well. If you don’t, the particles will hurt your eyes upon touching them. I learned this lesson the hard way, so please follow my advice.