Our friend John made Sconic Sections for a dinner party, with a slight variation: he baked the scone dough in ice cream cones. That led to a little bit of extra difficulty in slicing them, but the cone also provided an outline for the ellipses, hyperbolas and parabolas.
Cliff came with an esoteric dilemma: how to engrave a glass Klein bottle. Acme Klein bottles are blown from borosilicate (Pyrex) glass, which has a low coefficient of thermal expansion, which means that the usual way of engraving a curved glass surface—laser engraving—doesn’t actually work. With more common types of glass, you can use a laser engraver to etch anything you want into the surface. But with Pyrex, the surface simply melts unevenly rather than creating the microfractures that give an etched appearance.
There was one complication, which is that a Klein bottle is a funny shaped object! In order to fixture the Klein bottle in the Eggbot, we made a couple of extra large couplers—much larger than the tiny pads normally used to hold the ends of an egg—with EVA foam rubber pads on their surfaces. The extra large couplers held the Klein bottle securely for rotation.
We did some initial tests with Sharpie and a medium sized Klein bottle to make sure our fixturing worked well.
And then we hooked up an engraver for a real test.
Here’s what the Klein bottle looked like after engraving. Not being particularly creative, we etched the word “KLEIN” into the side. Because the Klein bottle is made from thick borosilicate glass, it takes engraving remarkably well. It is a much more sturdy object than the fragile Christmas ornaments that we have engraved in the past.
While we can’t imagine that it is a major market segment, the Eggbot seems to be ideal for working with Klein bottles (insomuch as anything can be perfect for working with a closed, non-orientable, boundary-free manifold). But regardless, it’s quite wonderful to find an unexpected application like this, where our little robot can solve a real-world problem that we had never even considered.
Today we’re thrilled to be launching our newest kit: the WaterColorBot.
The WaterColorBot is a brand-new project from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories and Super Awesome Sylvia — a friendly art robot that moves a paint brush to paint your digital artwork onto paper, using a set of watercolor paints.
We’ve previously written about how we got started on this project (in a guest post by Sylvia), and about Sylvia’s visit to the White House Science Fair, where she was able to give President Obama a personal demonstration of the WaterColorBot.
And now, you can get one too! We’re launching the WaterColorBot today on Kickstarter, and we’d like to ask for your support in getting it out there. The WaterColorBot is an enormously powerful tool for helping to get young people interested in technology:
Beyond simple fun, we think that the WaterColorBot has enormous potential for STEM and STEAM education, especially as a way to get young people engaged with hands-on technology and robotics. We are particularly interested finding ways to inspire young women to pursue careers in science and technology. We cannot imagine any better way to do so, than starting with a robot co-designed by a 12 year old girl.
Perhaps more than anything else that we’ve done, we think that the WaterColorBot really can make the world a better place, one (young) Evil Mad Scientist at a time.
The scone is a classic single-serving quick bread that is often served with breakfast or tea.
And, at the intersection of the two, we present something entirely new, delightfully educational, and remarkably tasty: Sconic Sections.
In what follows, we’ll show you how to bake cone-shaped scones, to slice them into plane geometric curves, and to highlight those curves by selective application of toppings. We’ll also discuss some of the methods that didn’t work so well, as we refined our methods for making these.
Onwards, towards parabolic preserves and hyperbolic Nutella!
Courtesy of the United States Navy comes this incredible introduction to analog mechanical computers.
The context for this is that massive, mechanical computers were used aboard US Navy ships ranging from destroyers to battleships, from about 1944-1969, as part of the “Fire Control” system. This type of computer would take up to 25 continuously changing input variables in order to calculate the proper bearing and elevation for heavy caliber guns aboard the ship. This calculation— to ensure that a projectile will land at the place where the target is going to be —is marvelously complex, taking into account variables such as wind speed and direction, relative velocity of the ship and target, and parallax between the different guns on the ship. What’s truly remarkable is that it was all done with mechanical mechanisms such as gear differentials, cams, and mechanical integrators.
This two-part training film, from 1953, introduces the basic mechanisms that made these computers work:
The video embedded above (41:53 total length) contains both films, one after the other. (And, the YouTube link is here.)
Basic Mechanisms in Fire Control Computers, Part 1 discusses shafts, gears, cams, and differentials. Note that the first couple of minutes are not so much about the mechanisms, but more of an explanation— to the servicemen —of why they needed to learn about them.
Basic Mechanisms in Fire Control Computers, Part 2 discusses component solvers, integrators, and multipliers
If you enjoy these training films, you may also want to read through the little book entitled Ordnance Pamphlet 1140: Basic Fire Control Mechanisms, available here in PDF format, which covers much of the same ground.
Introducing the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories STEAM T-shirt. Featuring high quality screen printing on 100% cotton tees from American Apparel.
Front side: Science & Technology & Engineering & Art & Mathematics. (Black ink)
Back side: The Evil Mad Scientist logo. (Red, brown, and black inks)
Shirt color: “New Silver,” a uniform light gray.
These are Great Shirts
Beautiful quality screen printing by Social Imprints of San Francisco (“Printing with Purpose”).
Why Science & Technology & Engineering & Art & Mathematics?
It’s who we are, and it’s what we stand for.
The Evil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirt is in stock and shipping now!
Happy Pi Day, everyone!
To celebrate, our friend Samantha brought in her knitted Pi blanket to share. After the first hexagon with the letter π embroidered on it, the first 127 digits of Pi are shown using the resistor color code to represent the value of the digit. Samantha is donating this quilt to the Project Linus, an organization that gives blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need.
For those in the San Francisco area, the Exploratorium is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Pi Day from 1 pm to 3 pm in front of their soon-to-open new location at Pier 15.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve at some point come across supposedly-nerdy valentines and thought to yourself, “A real geek would have used an equation to express that sentiment.” And if so, have we have got just the thing for you!
Here’s our collection of six little valentine cards, each of which adds a little authenticity and class to the not entirely uncommon “geek” valentine genre.
Suppose that you want to communicate to your valentine just how hot you think they are. Sure, you could go with a picture of a thermometer— or a Sriracha bottle —but isn’t the thermodynamic definition of temperature itself in a whole category of its own?
And what better way to say “I love you,” than with the gift of trigonometric identities?
You can download the original file here (260 kB .PDF document).
Print it out on (or otherwise affix to) card stock, and [some steps omitted] enjoy the resulting lifelong romance.
Update: New cards have been released! Please check out the 2017 set, which contains all 30 cards from 2013 through 2017.