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20 March 2014

lie, brag, cheat -- but you can't beat the Lego Rubik Robot! Untouched by Primate or Cetacean or Cephalopod Hands, Brains, Tentacles or Flippers!

pick Full Screen mode

Okay, get ready before you hit RUN. Take a deep breath, focus. Because this sucker is just going to be screamingly fast -- orders of magnitude faster than you've ever seen or imagined that a jumbled cube could be solved, made pristine as it was when you first took it out of the shrink wrap.

These fellows, I think, are or were engineering students at the University of Cambridge, in England. The engineering department just assigns Machines, Automata, with the stipulation that the mechanical parts all be in the Lego plastic block inventory. As their Rubik's Cube Robot got cleverer and faster, they seem to have morphed from undergrad Homework Assignments to Commercial High-Tech Engineering. 

What would you pay for this gizmo? (Cube not included.) How many hours of physical and intellectual labor would you be willing to transfer from Your Life to build this gizmo so that it wins the Cube Solving Guinness World Record?

Having come into possession of this amazing gizmo -- uhhh, so what? What's it good for? Can you flip griddle cakes or walk the dog with it? It seems to do One and Only One task better and faster than anything else in the universe.

btw the raw computational power to tell the Robot what each new cube change should be is 1 very ordinary mid-pricey smart phone. I think maybe a Samsung. These Cambridge engineering gizmo Lego projects are regularly brilliant and original.

The first thing to look closely for is the human finger pressing the red ON button in the lower right. After that, it's all a blinding flash on the Down Track of the roller coaster at Tivoli. (Which will celebrate its Hundredth Birthday this year I think. Look for me in the audience of the free hourly Commedia d'el Arte shows, Columbine, Pierot, Pierette, all those folks who hit each other with pig bladders and wooden bats.)

If anything about this whackdoodle blazing Lego Robot intrigues you, let me see if I can find an e-text of Edgar Alan Poe's solution of the famous chess-playing (and usually winning) Mechanical Turk. And that, of course, brings up the Mechanical Turk's descendant, the Amazon Mechanical Turk -- the Digital Age's revolutionary global web-based sweatshop.

13 March 2014

Yay! It's Pi Day! Bake & Eat Pi(e)! Memorize lots of decimal digits of Pi!

Click stamp to enlarge.

It's 3/14 = 14 March, and everywhere in the universe where sentients have (on average) ten fingers, it's Pi Day!

On Earth, lots of people celebrate by baking and eating pi(e)! (I like blueberry.)

In lots of schools, students hold contests to see who can correctly memorize the most digits of the decimal expansion of π.

The usual -- but by no means the only -- definition of π is the circumference of a circle divided by the diameter. That works out to a little more than 3.14 .

But π isn't always defined in terms of geometry or circles. π pops up all over the place in pure mathematics, often in the most unexpected and mysterious places.

2015 -- next year -- Pi Day will be extra special, because 3/14/15 will be the first 5 digits of the decimal expansion. There should be some extra big Pi Festivals and Celebrations.

Click Here for tons of stuff about Pi Day.