Edison’s Cradle is a bright idea

This interesting take on Newton’s Cradle is called “Asobi” and was created by [Yasutoki Kariya]. However, [Johnny] at Spoon and Tamago dubbed it “Edison’s Cradle”, which we think is a great name.

As you can make out in the video, it isn’t really a Newton’s Cradle. There is a solenoid pushing the bulbs at the end out at the correct time, but that’s fine. The overall result is quite brilliant. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the setup. Anyone have more information? Anyone want to take a stab at making “Tesla’s cradle”?

[via Make]


  1. Unanymous says:

    Edison was a dick.

  2. willrandship says:

    Tesla cradle makes me think of electrostatic forces pushing the objects, rather than direct collisions.

  3. bzroom says:

    so bad ass

  4. Devlin says:

    It’d be pretty cool to see an arcing version of this where it is a regular Newton’s cradle but has the outer two masses at opposite high voltages, while the inner masses only conduct between other masses. That way, the outer swinging mass will always have an arc between it and the nearest mass.

  5. utopcell says:


  6. DJElectfire says:

    So has it been confirmed that it’s solenoids pushing the end ones?
    To me it seems a bit too smooth and not nearly as loud as it(should be)would be if it was solenoids,

    Personally I was thinking more of magnets and electro-magnets.

  7. Boutsman says:

    Lolz, that’s what yesterday’s Mythbusters was all about.

  8. MorbiouStone says:

    why anyone would name something after Edison is beyond me. He was a thief & a saboteur Tesla was/ is a better, smarter inventor & person bar none

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      most likely because of the connection between edison and the lightbulb. it is a logical connection.

    • Scott says:

      Happens all the time, look at Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Stealing the GUI.

    • PI says:

      I appreciate the enthusiasm for Tesla– I’ve been a fan since before it was cool to be one. But your anti-Edison rhetoric is getting a bit silly.

      Isaac Newton, whom nobody denies invented calculus, is quoted as saying: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. It is a rare inventor whose work is not based upon the work of others.

      It is true that others developed electric light designs before Edison. But to the extent that these other devices worked at all, they were dim, short-lived, or had other physical/electrical characteristics that made them unsuitable for use in the home. A light bulb that doesn’t work well, can’t be relied upon, or is too costly for the average working stiff to afford is in effect, useless.

      Edison conducted over 9000 experiments in the development of his light bulb. He literally sent explorers around the world looking for materials that could be carbonized into practical filaments. In one experiment, in which he attempted to prevent the blackening of the bulb by a disintegrating filament, he included a charged metal plate inside the envelope. In noticing a peculiar unidirectional flow of electric current from the filament to the plate, he unknowingly created the first vacuum tube diode.

      John Fleming got the patent for the first vacuum tube in 1904, but Edison was the first to actually build one, back in 1883.

      The bottom line is that Edison refined the electric light bulb to the point that it worked well, and could be manufactured cheaply enough that most people could afford them.

      Tesla brought us the modern electric grid, and he’s responsible for the dozens of induction motors scattered throughout the typical home. But if it weren’t for Edison, we’d have spent most of the last 100 years in the dark.

  9. Hirudinea says:

    That is quite cool, I like it. But another way it could be, closer to a Newton cradle, would be to use plastic lightbulb shapes filled with epoxy or some other clear solid with embedded LED light and a power supply and motion/impact sensor in the bulb socket, but since I can’t build that this will do for me to drool over. :)

  10. MorbiousStone says:

    Edison did not invent the light bulb, not even remotely

  11. Grovenstien says:

    Very clean build! Captivating twist on an old classic. Oh and I invented the light bulb, end of story!

  12. steve says:

    the sound is terrible! makes my fingernails twist backwards!

  13. IMHO: A low-tech version of this Newton’s Cradle (or conservation of momentum and energy machine) would be to wire up 5 tempered glass (Pyrex – unbreakable glass) spheres with horizontally oriented mercury switches (in the plastic necks) wired in series to incandescent bulbs, with a small-value electrolytic capacitor wired in parallel (to stretch out the lamps glow a bit), and a common power supply (bulbs 1,2,3,4,5). Then the #5 sphere would have it’s mercury switch wired in series to, common power supply, a solenoid, and parallel-wired large-value electrolytic capacitor for delayed dropout mounted on the right end that pushed the #5 bulb (at the neck) away every time to give the illusion of perpetual motion. Yes the #5 would move on it’s own anyway due to the inherent physics but if it didn’t have an solenoid assist the motion would decay eventually and stop. In any event a human has to start the action by setting #1 into motion initially. He could use a left-side solenoid to do that too. Maybe there is a feedback line from #5 (right) to #1 (left) solenoid too but that’s a bit more complex and and a bit more problematic. But maybe that’s the big challenge of the whole thing too.

    The hanging cables are also the feed lines to the common power supply in the ceiling. The capacitance would be key and you’d have to play around with it to find optimal values.

    For all you Tesla-lovers please watch this movie to get the REAL story about this guy: ‘The Secret of Nikola Tesla’ 1980 by Serbo-Croatian: Tajna Nikole Tesle. There’s a lot you don’t know about him and his past.

    Not in the movie but the reason why the newly formed BOI (aka FBI – headed by J. Edgar Hoover) was so interested in Tesla and why eventually his Wardenclyffe Tower was destroyed by US Navy (under orders from POTUS not JP Morgan as many falsely believe) is because of him selling his new advanced turbine engines to the Germans just before WW1 and the Germans used them in their warships against Allied shipping.

    I’m not pro-Edison but Tesla did work for him before they became sworn enemies. Edison’s working commercial tungsten filament argon-filled incandescent bulb was invented by his assistants Hammer & Swan not Edison himself. But that was Tom’s M.O. to make other’s inventions his own not unlike Mr. Einstein – the sticky-fingered Patent Clerk? However, the movie hints that maybe Tesla’s inventions where not his own either (i.e. from a higher power?).

    • Ed Jaws says:

      @sonofthunderboanerges you wrote of the lightbulb (as others keep pointing out):

      “Edison’s working commercial tungsten filament argon-filled incandescent bulb was invented by his assistants Hammer & Swan not Edison himself. But that was Tom’s M.O. to make other’s inventions his own not unlike Mr. Einstein…”

      My question to these “Edison is a dick/thief” folks is simply this: How is it that what is explained that Edison did (using work completed by his assistants) any different from nearly every big-time university PhD who shows up in his lab 2-3 times a week to check in on his/her load of assistants who work daily? When the “breakthrough” is finally made, it’s Doctor So-n-So that gets the credit, not “Weekend-Shift Jane.”

      Was Tesla always working alone in his lab with no outside support or assistants helping while he was away?

  14. ferdie says:

    this thing is not a edisons cradle look at the back wall you see to things that look like a block at the 2 ends that push the lamp at the right time and make the sound

  15. I believe it is based on Newton’s Cradle or Newton’s Balls. I think kinetic energy is being transferred through the balls but you can’t see it. Just like the EXECUTIVE BALLS you can buy at Spencer’s Gifts or Edmund Scientific both in NJ (USA).

    If you want to see something TRULY amazing which you can make yourself, look up Tesla’s Egg of Columbus.

    • Matthew says:

      but it says in the description
      “As you can make out in the video, it isn’t really a Newton’s Cradle. There is a solenoid pushing the bulbs at the end out at the correct time, but that’s fine”
      and I just got that from the comment right above you…?
      did you read anything…?

  16. Sjors says:

    Yeah, he was a dick.. im wondering, cant they just put in much more power to make the ones in the middle light up real good?

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