Thomas Halsey comments, in his News and Views article “Friction in a spin” (Nature 424, 1005; 2003), “No doubt string theorists and creators of Bose–Einstein condensates will be bemused to discover that they are sharing academic departments with colleagues whose idea of fundamental physics involves spinning coins.”

Or perhaps not, if history is anything to go by. The physicist Richard Feynman famously put on record how one day in the cafeteria “some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air”. By noticing the difference between the plate's angular velocity and that of the associated wobble, says Feynman, he was motivated to higher things: “The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate” (R. P. Feynman with R. Leighton Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman! Norton, New York, 1985).