Listen close. If you’re a kid, or you’ve ever been one, chances are you know what this sound belongs to. Do you know? We’ll find out if you’re right, today on Engineering Works!
Did you guess? You’re right, of course. It’s that silly engineering marvel, the Slinky.
The toy generations of kids know as the Slinky was born by accident on a U-S Navy ship during World War II. Naval engineer Richard James was trying to design a way to use springs to insulate fragile shipboard instruments from shocks and vibration. He got the idea for the Slinky when one of his experimental springs walked off a shelf and down onto the deck. As it turned out, the Navy never used James’ idea. But when he got home after the war, he and his wife perfected the steel ribbon spring toy we all know today.
The Slinky was an instant success. The Jameses sold their first four-hundred Slinkys within an hour and a half of when they offered the springy toys for sale.
Most of us still think of Slinkys as toys. But they have their serious side, too. The springy steel spirals have been used to build everything from radio antennas to light fixtures and pecan pickers. Physics teachers use them in class to demonstrate cool stuff like – wave properties – forces – and – energy states.
The Slinky has even made it to the big screen, in the â€œToy Storyâ€? movie series.
Time’s up. It’s time for us to slink away.