Christmas is almost upon us, and fans of the Time Lord have marked their calendars for the Christmas special for sure. In the meantime, there is nothing we can do but wait for that momentous event. There are, however, lots of Doctor Who stuff we can find online that will whet our appetites while we wait.
Remember those awesome “beasts” that were introduced to the world by Dutch kinetic artist Theo Jansen? They are called strandbeests, and they are made of every day materials such as water bottles, rods, plastic tubes, and rubber rings. The amazing thing about these creations is that they are self-propelling. Given the size of a strandbeest, seeing one in action is probably one of the most amazing sights ever.
Now, the average person will probably not have the opportunity to build or see one of these in real life. It’s a pity, especially since the amount of work and effort put into a single strandbeest is impressive. But what if there was a way to have your very own strandbeest? Not life sized, but something that can join your already huge toy collection.
With 3D printing, this is actually possible! I was quite a skeptic in the beginning with regard to 3D printing and its use, but the more I read about its applications, the more I am convinced about the whole concept.
Now Theo Jansen himself has shared his mini-strandbeest created using 3D printing! It really is fascinating, especially since the creature works just like its big brothers. Here’s the artist showing how it’s done.
I have to admit – it looks like a tiresome process; but then again, I bet the original beasts were just as bothersome, if not more. You also have to think that in order to make something that is worthy of a permanent place in science fiction (as the strandbeests are), you have to go the extra mile. Now 3D printer manufacturers – make them so ordinary people can get hold of these devices!
For some reason, I have always had a good relationship with my math teachers in grade school and high school. Now college professors were always touch and go – with all the math courses I had to take, I was bound to meet one or two that didn’t exactly become a bosom buddy. In any case, one thing that bugged me about certain branches of math was the fact that they didn’t seem to have immediate practical applications. All those equations and computations just seemed fruitless to me as a student who wanted to make something useful. I am sure many students have felt – and feel – the same way.
If it were up to this particular math teacher, though, I bet that students would have more practical applications of what they learn in class. Or maybe not.
What’s for sure is that he found some free time in his hands, a whole lot of pencils – 80 of them, and different kinds of glue. Throw in some geometric principles and a dash of inspiration, and this is what you get.
That’s called the STAR – Standardized Testing And Reporting, which is actually the test that his students are taking this month. (That’s where some of the inspiration came from!)
This is the same sculpture taken from a different angle.
In his blog, Mister Math Teacher ((An Ocean of Knowledge An Inch Deep)) talks about other sources of inspiration: work by George Hart ((Geometric Sculpture)) and Carlo H. Sequin ((Carlo H. Sequin’s Web Site)). He also reveals just how he got his pencil sculpture made. If you have an excess of pencils, why not give it a try?
Now I wonder if his star pupil will get the sculpture at the end of the academic year?
What in the world is a strandbeest? It is an animal created by Dutch physicist, artisit, and kinetic sculptor Theo Jansen. While it may not be a living form in the strictest sense, the strandbeest might very well fool you.
Jansen has gotten a lot of attention by creating beach animals which are self-propelling. That succinct description may not pique your curiosity enough, but trust me, watching a strandbeest in action definitely will. Jansen created his strandbeests using simple materials such as recycled water bottles, plastic tubing, rods, and rubber rings. Glancing at a beest, you wouldn’t think much of it – just another piece of installation art, probably. Once it starts moving on its own, thanks to the wind that has been “caught” in the water bottles, you probably will find your lower jaw dropping involuntarily. See it for yourself.
In his web site, Theo Jansen gives some details on how he was able to make these things work. You can find concepts, theories, and math – even details on the 11 Holy Numbers. If you’re the sort who wants to figure out exactly how things work, then you ought to read what the mastermind himself has to say. In case you get converted and become a Jansen fan – which is likely to happen – you can also get his books and DVDs from the web site.