Math Monday: Tetrahedron Ripples

By Glen Whitney for the Museum of Mathematics


Before we leave the topic of Sierpinski Tetrahedra, with which many Math Mondays have been concerned, I wanted to highlight the story of one particularly impressive Sierpinski Tetrahedron which has indirectly inspired a host of young makers.

Namely, it’s this record-setting order-seven “Rainbow Tetrahedron,” built in Cleveland in 2002:

More: See all of our Math Monday columns

Szymon Klimek’s Miniature Mechanical Creations

By Craig Couden

Photo by Szymon Klimek

Without an everyday reference for a sense of scale, Szymon Klimek’s intricate mechanical creations could easily be mistaken for twice their true size. Made from 0.1 millimeter sheets of brass and bronze, Klimek’s miniature machines dance effortlessly in wine-glass enclosures that measure little more than 4 inches across.

Klimek’s latest creation, Sponge, is a steam engine-like machine named for the latticework of tiny, interconnected brass pieces that expands and contracts as the engine runs. Sitting in a wine glass about a foot tall, a small silicon solar cell powers a concealed electric motor, which drives the 3-inch flywheel. He doesn’t work to a specific scale, but customizes his designs for each glass: the opening of Sponge’s wine glass and the diameter of its flywheel differed by less than a millimeter. CAD programs assist with design, and Klimek, 57, assembles most of the machinery outside of the enclosures, cutting and shaping the pieces by hand. He says the wine glasses lend a bit of elegance to the display, and the spherical shape allows viewers to see the work from any angle. Sealing the top and gluing the machines down with clear resin also protects the delicate pieces from dust and curious fingers.

Living in Poznan, Poland, Klimek entered into the world of small-scale making in 2004 with a miniature steam locomotive and coal wagon, measuring about 3 inches. He’s built close to a hundred handcrafted brass and bronze miniatures, including ornate carriages, early 20th-century roadsters, and yes, even a ship with billowing sails that fits in a wine glass. Since 2008 he’s created nine “active devices.”

Next, Klimek wants to tackle a more challenging material: steel.

Above is an excerpt from MAKE Volume 30.


From the pages of MAKE Volume 30:

MAKE Volume 30Until recently, home automation was gimmicky, finicky, and user-hostile. But today, thanks to a new crop of devices and technology standards, home automation is useful, fun, and maker-friendly. In the special section of MAKE Volume 30, we’ll show you: how to flip any switch in your home with a smartphone, home automation without programming, controlling your HVAC with an Arduino, a webcam security system, and a wall-mounted Notification Alert Generator (NAG) that plays timely reminders as you walk by. Plus, you’ll build a Yakitori Grill, a robust R/C flying-wing airplane, sturdy furnishings from PVC, and more!


Horizontal Helical 3D Display

The french inventor Michel David implemented a volumetric display prototype. The 3D image is created by a projecting light on a spinning helical vane. He is also citing a previous work on helical displays: FELIX 3D display, and this 2002 paper from the FELIX 3D folks traces the technology as far back as 1958. Michel puts the cost of his machine at €40, and though his results are definitely proof-of-concept quality (beside i find it really funny that he uses a Dremel-Tool to rotate the axis, i owe one myself 😉 ). Some comments on the project state that the prototype itself ‘looks like a DaVinci sketch.’, which i would also agree on.

Glowback: Arduino-Powered Clay Sculpture

Look at this nice clay sculpture by Ben Hollis and Eva Funderburgh who chose an unusual material to house their Arduino in. The porcelain gives off a soft glow in staggered rhythms provided by the super bright LEDs underneath the nodules.

Arduino is used more and more by arts and design projects to implement some physical computing applications. It’s easy and intuitive way of programming microcontrollers is a welcomed opportunity for non programmers to model some physical enabled applications. You  can light some multicolor LEDs, read out sensor values of all kinds and control all sorts of actuators, such as stepper motors, brushless motors, linear motors and many more.

See Ben Hollis’ site for full documentation.

Weekend Projects Gets Extreme With LED Throwies!

A LED-Throwie is a LED mounted on a coin cell battery in combination with some sort of a glueing material, such as a magnet for throwing it on metal. LED-Throwies were invented by the Graffiti Research Lab (GRL) aroung 2005, as a destruction free variant of a public lightning graphity. LED-Throwies are used mainly for street art or as light effects for events. There are no limitations for endless applications on public statues, buildings, bridges or transport.

Watch this cool project where artists have taken the concept and created indestructible waterproof lanterns, filled a hundred helium balloons and tethered them all together to create an etheral, floating sculpture, and connected them with Integrated Circuits that blink Morse code.

Scanning Art for the World to Download & Make

NEWS FROM THE FUTUREScanning Art for the World to Download & Make

Now, as if the promise of democratizing goods, revolutionizing industries and opening up a whole new era of “object” piracy wasn’t enough, the MakerBot team is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, scanning art with 123D Catch for the world to download and make.

Imagine an art class where you can see the Statue of David right in front of you. Imagine what will happen now that contemporary artists will be able to explore and hack famous works from the past. This is huge for the art community, The Met is absolutely awesome for letting this happen, and I couldn’t be more excited about this.

MakerBot is doing this right now, it will be interesting to see which museums ultimately do not allow 3D captures of art.

Geek Fashion

Its time for a special post on Geek Fashion and on wearable smart technology which you embed within your everday clothing. Several makers have published amazing pieces of technology enabled clothing, so that i find it time to show some nice examples. The School of Design, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Victoria University of Wellington for example established a specific course for wearable technology. Out of this course some stundents published really cool pieces such as Emily Steel‘s Little Slide Dress:

The Little Slide Dress is a modern take on the classic Little Black Dress. It uses modern technology and blends it with a 100-year-old medium, film. The Dress draws inspiration from classic movies and the ‘magic of film’ to create a wearable piece of technology and art. With film light is so important in the creation and viewing of images and this was one of the driving forces behind the dress’s creation. With film only see what really going on once the lights go out. For this to work there needs to be a balance of projected and ambient light something the Little Slide Dress tries to emulate.

The dress is constructed out of individual slide film images that are backed with LED’s. An Arduino Lilypad connected to a light sensor controls the brightness of the LED’s. The sensor reads the how much ambient light there is and uses this value to determine if the LED’s will be off or on. When there is lots of light the LED’s are off and it looks like a shiny black dress with small hints that something else is going on. Once the sensor determines there is the right amount of light for LED’s to be seen in their full brightness it turns them on. When the dress is on the lights slowly pulse and the images on the dress come alive. [Emily Steel]


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Emily Steel's Little Slide Dress
Little Slide Dress
Emily Steel's Little Slide Dress








Another interesting piece of work, by Matthew Everitt is Tank opT, which represents a wearable technology project which uses light and fashion to explore the relationship between the personal and social aspects of mp3 players.

Tank opT is a tank top/shirt made from high quality cotton flannel. Embedded within the shirt are Fibre Optics and LED’s which vary in brightness according to the music the wearer of the shirt is playing. The idea of the shirt is to create a more social aspect to listening to your personal music player. However, not to make it so social that it fully breaks the personal aspect of it. The user plugs their mp3 player in along with their headphones so that they can listen to the music. The shirt has two modes. Firstly, the more structured, strobe effect that is a visualiser for the music that runs up the buttons. Secondly, the subtler, beautiful look that uses fibre optics on the shoulders that pulse to music. These two aspects make the shirt unisex, the strobe LED’s on the front account for the more male style and the softer fibre optics on the back the more feminine style.

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Tank Opt by Matthew Everitt


Another work by Jessica Christini shows a neck corsett that glows. S.O.S. is a crafted leather and boning corset designed to be worn around the neck. Installed in between the leather petals and lining are 40 LEDs that glow and are more active the darker the area the wearer is.

S.O.S by Jessica Christini


Kinect + Digital Camera = DIY CGI

Kaley says: “The team behind the RGB+D Toolkit (an open-source, video game/Final Cut Pro hybrid) is attempting to transform the Kinect gaming console into a real filmmaking tool, making stunning DIY CGI a real possibility. Using a Kinect and a standard DSLR camera, like your Canon 5D, these avant-garde image-makers have created a technique that allows you to generate a true CGI and video hybrid. The results are pretty striking.”

MaKey MaKey: An Invention Kit for Everyone

Here is another interesting Kickstarter project called MaKey MaKey, which offers an invention kit for everyone. With this kit it should be possible for everybody to try technology and to invent funny applications, such as using everyday objects as touchscreens or to play on a banana piano. It is a nice simple concept for artists, children and adults who are doing some experiments.