There are many things about which I wish to waffle, but so little time available in which to do the waffling, so let’s simply jump headfirst into the fray with gusto and abandon (and aplomb, of course — I never leave home without my trusty plomb, which was handed down to me by my father when he had no further use for it).
Let’s start with this video showing what its creators call MAGS (Magnetically Assisted Gears). The idea is that each tooth in each gear wheel features a small, powerful magnet. Do you remember when you were at high school and you tried to force the same poles of two bar magnets together? It got harder and harder the closer you got, and you never actually managed to make them touch. Well, that’s the principle they are using here.
I think this is a really interesting idea. It’s unfortunate that the creators of the video decided to annotate it with points like “No Noise,” to which the commenters responded, “This video has no audio track.” Similarly, the claims of “No Vibration” and “No Losses” received their fair share of LOLs along with other comments of a derogatory nature.
Next, we have the Cubli as seen in this video. Although this is an oldie (from 2013), it’s still a goodie. The idea is to equip a 15 x 15 x 15 cm cube with three reaction wheels, which are types of flywheels, mounted at 90° to each other. By using a sophisticated control system to rotate these wheels at high velocities and then brake them suddenly, the Cubli can be caused to perform all sorts of actions, like balancing on any of its corners.
Do you like optical illusions? Personally, I love things like the 10 illusions depicted in this video. I was going to say that my favorite was the Ames room until I saw… but no! You can tell me which you like the best.
And, speaking of optical illusions, I had to laugh at this video, which features a dance in the Strumpfhosentanz style, where “Strumpfhosentanz” is German for “this will make your brains leak out of your ears” (this isn’t an exact translation because I don’t speak German).
The thing is that our brains have a pretty good idea as to what they expect to see in any given situation, so when they are presented with things that don’t match up to their world view, they “fill in the gaps” as best they can. In the case of the Strumpfhosentanz illusion, we end up with something that is — according to the folks at Scientific American — “”resilient to our best cognitive efforts to assign the correct arms and legs to each of the dancers.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.