Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tops or Spintops

Image result for top

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Tops (spinning tops, spin tops) have a long history-- ~6000 years.  They have not escaped the attention of mathematicians, e.g., this article from Nature (1899). Don't miss the abstract! And Scientific American published a book (1985) by physicist Jearl Walker titled Roundabout, which includes the physics of tops.

There is more to tops though than mathematics and science. I focus on one: the pleasure and joy of watching them in their various forms.

In 1969, the industrial designers Charles and Ray (Bernice Alexandra "Ray" Kaiser) Eames released a film (7 m, 15 s) that "is a celebration of the ancient art and craft of top-making and spinning. One hundred and twenty-three tops spin to the accompaniment of a score by Elmer Bernstein." The tops are old and new and "from various countries, including China, Japan, India, the United States, France, and England."

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