The Plastic Brain

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Title: Flexible Robot Crawls in Tight Spaces

Category: #soft-bodiedrobots

Author: George M. Whitesides, Harvard team

Year: 2011


Description: Harvard scientists have built a new type of flexible robot that is limber enough to wiggle and worm through tight spaces. It’s the latest prototype in the growing field of soft-bodied robots. Researchers are increasingly drawing inspiration from nature to create machines that are more bendable and versatile than those made of metal.

Source: responsivesarchitectures

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The Tale of Alvida – Awesome Pirate Queen

“Alvida (aka Alwilda, Alfhild, Alvild) was the daughter of Synardus, the king of Gotland. Her parents kept her locked in her room, and set two poisonous snakes to keep away all but the most ardent of suitors. The most persisant and brave fellow turned out to be Prince Alf of Denmark, and though he passed the test Alvilda’s parents were none too happy about the match. Deciding she wasn’t ready to be wedded to some stuffy Prince, Alvilda took advantage of her parents’ irresolution and hightailed it out of there. She joined a crew of cross-dressing women, but had barely got started in a career in terrorizing the Baltic coast when they came across a crew of pirates that had lost their Captain. They were so impressed by her capable skills that they voted unanimously to elect her as their new leader. With these fresh reinforcements beneath her ruthless guidance, this formidable woman became such a nuisance to the merchant trade that her former betrothed, Prince Alf, was dispatched to bring the troublesome pirates to justice.

“Alvilda and her crew fought back to the best of their abilities, but in the gulf of Finland they were bested at last. Prince Alf and his men boarded the pirates’ ship, where hand to hand fighting ensued. After sustaining heavy casualties, Alvilda’s crew succumbed and she herself was taken captive. With her beauty concealed by a face covering helmet, she was taken prisoner, and it was only when this helmet was removed that Prince Alf realized who the scourge of the seas had been. For her part, Alvilda was so impressed by how Alf had fought in battle that she married him on the spot. She went on to share his wealth and throne as Queen of Denmark, and together they had a daughter, who they named Gurith.”


It’s a little different from the Wikipedia version of the story ( Either way, it’s a pretty smashing tale.

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Here’s my answer for the puzzle I posed earlier:

[1] Use the ruler to measure the height of the cylinder

[2] Trace the bottom of the cylinder to construct a circle

[3] Use the pair of compasses to construct intersecting diameters

[4] Measure the radius of the circle

[5] Mark the cylinder on the top, and roll it along a line from the mark until the mark touches again to measure the circumference.

Now, find the volume by multiplying the area of the circle (A), by the height of the cylinder (h).

Normally you would use π in the formula A=πr² -but that is not allowed.

But did you know that the area of a circle is also given by A=½cr (where c is the circumference)?

As proof, π=c÷2r (by definition), which can be written ½c÷r. Replace π in A=πr² to produce A=½c÷r x r² =½cr.

The volume is therefore given by V=½crh


An alternative answer was provided by God Damn Batman

Any other answers out there?

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Can you accurately estimate the volume of a cylinder without using π (pi)?

You are allowed a ruler, a pencil, paper and a pair of compasses.

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These beautiful drawings provide a powerful visualisation, for me, of the concepts of fields and flux.

Some here.

More here

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