Intro: How to Confuse a Secondary School Student
A rattleback, also known as an "anagyre", "celt", "Celtic stone", "rattlerock", "spin bar", "wobble stone" or "wobblestone" and by the product names "ARK," "Bizzaro Swirls," "RATTLEBACKS," "Space Pet" and "Space Toy," is a semi-ellipsoidal top which will spin on its axis in a preferred direction. But, if spun in the opposite direction, it becomes unstable, "rattles", stops and reverses its spin to the preferred direction. This spin-reversal motion seems, at first sight, to violate the angular-momentum conservation law of physics. Moreover, for most rattlebacks, the motion will happen when the rattleback is spun in one direction, but not when spun in the other. These two peculiarities make the rattleback a physical curiosity that has excited human imagination since prehistorical times.