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Comes from the past but it won't last
It might shine first but it will rust
Ideally, there are three friends he can trust
They keep him busy, so it won't gather dust

What is it?


Hint:

Title

The second stanza as the second hint:

It both stays and moves
If it obeys the rules
A genius baby proves
When he gently pulls

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  • 7
    $\begingroup$ The delorean :D $\endgroup$ – Andrew Smith Feb 11 '16 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewSmith: Nice guess but not correct. It could be a fun answer :) It is not a time machine. $\endgroup$ – ermanen Feb 11 '16 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ I posted in jest :) $\endgroup$ – Andrew Smith Feb 11 '16 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ You're not a fan of test cricket by any chance are you? (new balls are shiny, and leave "rusty" red marks on white pants. Ideally they "make friends" with the three stumps...) $\endgroup$ – Alconja Feb 12 '16 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Alconja perhaps cricket is a dying sport? :p wondering about the first sentence... $\endgroup$ – nine9 Feb 12 '16 at 8:51
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How about

Newton's Cradle

Got the balls to answer?

It's made of a series of balls suspended from a frame...

Comes from the past but it won't last
It might shine first but it will rust

Early versions were made in the XVII Century. They're often made of some sort of metal

Ideally, there are three friends he can trust

Newton's three laws of motion.

They keep him busy, so it won't gather dust

After starting one, they go one for a while

It both stays and moves
If it obeys the rules

The end balls fly out while all the others are stationary, while obeying the rules of momentum

A genius baby proves

Genius=Newton, Baby->Cradle

When he gently pulls

How you start the cradle, by pulling back and releasing one of the balls

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is correct. Did I give too much hint :) However, you didn't get the three friends hint. Do you wanna think about it more? I can accept your answer after a while. $\endgroup$ – ermanen Feb 12 '16 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ Updated with the other thought I had for the three friends. $\endgroup$ – Matt Feb 12 '16 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ >! @ermanen Are the three friends about the three balls in the middle of the cradle (usually 5 balls total), which stay still? $\endgroup$ – Piotr Pytlik Feb 12 '16 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ The three friends are related to the Newton's laws but they are more specifically momentum, gravity and energy. $\endgroup$ – ermanen Feb 12 '16 at 16:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Heh. My initial thought was about Newton's cradle. Didn't know what it was called and couldn't match up the clues. Well done. 😄 $\endgroup$ – Andrew Smith Feb 12 '16 at 17:20
2
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Sounds to me like

The balls outside a pawnbroker's shop. They always come in 3's, they have a long tradition, they do start shiny and will rust since they hang outside. I suppose it might be busy inside a pawnbroker's but this is one of the weak parts of my argument.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice try but not correct. Also, the number 3 is not related to the balls. $\endgroup$ – ermanen Feb 12 '16 at 15:14
2
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This doesn't seem to make too much sense (as it doesn't fit the second hint), but I will give it a shot anyways...

The answer is:

Home plate in baseball

It comes from the past but won't last because

The home plate is the place where you started at first (past), but also where you could potentially end up.

It will shine at first it will rust because

Obviously it will get "rust" eventually

And finally his three friends are

The other three bases, which helps the home plate to prevent the other team from scoring, or getting to the home plate.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice try. Matt got it :) $\endgroup$ – ermanen Feb 12 '16 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ I see, I like this puzzle ! $\endgroup$ – Matthew Lau Feb 12 '16 at 16:22
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I know it's already been answered, but I wanted to include my answer that I think works moderately well before including the second stanza.

Answer:

A clock

Comes from the past but it won't last

Wall clocks have been around for centuries. Nicer clocks often become antique items and/or are considered family heirlooms and passed down for many years but will eventually wear out and cease functioning.

It might shine first but it will rust

Without proper maintenance, the mechanisms in a clock can gather moisture, rust, and seize up.

Ideally, there are three friends he can trust
They keep him busy, so it won't gather dust

Also related to the title -- wall clocks are often weight-driven, the larger ones with three weights. While traditionally cylindrical, ball weights also exist. The slow descent of the weights can keep a clock running for several days at a time.

It still (kind of almost) works with the second stanza, with the exception of a pretty specific line.

It both stays and moves
If it obeys the rules

The pendulum and weights keep the gears moving, but the clock stays in place.

A genius baby proves

Yeah, I got nothing for this one.

When he gently pulls

To wind the clock, you pull the chain for each weight.

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