Sure, the Newton's cradle reigns supreme as the world's most mesmerizing desktop toy. But if you're looking for a replacement, we've a lot of ideas. (This story was originally posted in 2019 and has been recently updated with a handful of new picks.)
Take ScienceGeek's twist on the classic office toy: It changes color as the suspended LED-light balls swing.
Put Sunnytech's Stirling-engine contraption on top of your morning mug of hot coffee, and watch it whirl and hear it clink. When it stops, you'll know your beverage has reached a pleasing drinking temperature.
This think piece, developed by veteran workplace creativity consultant Roger von Oech is a 30-sided polyhedron that's assembled from 30 tiny magnetic pyramids and can be reassembled in almost any way you can, well, think of.
Crazy Aaron's specializes in what it calls thinking putty. We like Crazy Aaron's Strange Attractor variety because, one, it's magnetic, two, it comes with a magnet, three, the magnet makes the putty sparkle, and four, we just know it'll make us the talk of the office.
Take iron-rich fluid, put it in a bottle, add two magnets to the outside of the bottle and what do you get? Peaks and patterns reminiscent of the black oil on The X-Files, all courtesy Mokiki's bottled ferrofluid.
Turn this egg-shaped, liquid-filled paperweight over on its base and watch its red sand make like a lava flow. You'll probably put papers on your desk in order to have an excuse to expense this.
No ordinary clock, the MoMA perpetual calendar uses magnetic balls to denote the day and month. Then, on New Year's Day, you move the magnets back to the beginning. It can be desk or wall-mounted, and is sure to spark conversation.