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Leo’s aunt sent Leo this Silly-Putty-like substance. (I’m not going to name or link to it because I don’t condone random toxic substances — and who knows what’s in this — nor do I condone random icky substances, outside of bathroom science experiments. Leo, of course, loved it!)

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This evil un-named substance is a little stiffer than Silly Putty, and bounces a little less well. These properties make it more like a malleable rubber ball than like putty. I’m guessing that you can do the same thing I’m going to describe here with Silly Putty, but I haven’t tried.

This provided the opportunity to explore chaos in some detail; the principal principle being that small changes in initial conditions result in large changes in the downstream dynamics. (Coincidentally, this is going to come up again in my next post.)

We explored this by shaping the gunk into various shapes and then dropping it over and over, trying to do it exactly the same way each time. We’ll eventually probably build a tinker toy gizmo to do this more carefully, but for a ten minute pick-up lesson this morning, this was way adequate to demonstrate the effect, and Leo had a blast trying it, and then chasing the ball (or cube or cylinder, or whatever) around the room. He actually got a lot more into the experimental aspect of this than I had expected, trying many kinds of shapes, and then making small changes in them and trying to see how these affected the dynamics.

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(Someone should TradeMark “Chaos Putty” 🙂 )