Maxwell's spinning top is a curious spinning top. It combines the physics of a spinning top, a gyroscope and friction to produce some interesting movements. It is named after James Clerk Maxwell's dynamical top which was developed in 1856. This is loosely based on that top but has an additional wire spiral.
So what does it do? The top sits on a stand, you spin it up with a piece of string like you can with many tops,
however after starting the top, the spike above the spinning top will come into contact with the spiral
shaped wire. Friction against the wire will cause the top to begin to follow the wire, gyroscopic forces
(precession) will force the top against the wire harder, improving the friction.
The top will follow the spiral all the way to the end and then almost magically wrap around the other side of
the wire and go back to the centre! It can follow the spiral a few times before it has to be restarted.
TIP: Try spinning the top clockwise and anti-clockwise. It will do something a little different.....