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Frederick The Monk
308715.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:07 am Reply with quote

Question: What is unusual about this form?

Answer: It is 'unknockdownable' - the world's first self-righting (monostatic) object. No matter how you orient it, it ends up in the same position.

Notes:The Gomboc is a roundish piece of clear synthetic material with gently peaked, organic curves. It looks like a piece of modern art. But if you tip it over, something unusual happens: it rights itself.

It leans off to one side, rocks to and fro as if gathering strength and then, presto, tips itself back into a “standing” position as if by magic. It doesn’t have a hidden counterweight inside that helps it perform this trick, like an inflatable punching-bag doll that uses ballast to bob upright after you whack it. The Gomboc is instead something new: the world’s first self-righting object.

The Gomboc is a result of a long mathematical quest. In 1995, the Russian mathematician Vladimir Arnold mused that it would be possible to create a “mono-monostatic” object — a three-dimensional thingy that purely by dint of its geometry had only one possible way to balance upright.

The challenge intrigued two scientists — Gabor Domokos and Peter Varkonyi, both of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. They spent a few years doing the math, and it seemed as if a mono-monostatic object could, in fact, exist. They began looking to see if they could find a naturally occurring example; at one point, Domokos was so obsessed that he spent hours testing 2,000 pebbles on a beach to see if they could right themselves. (None could.)

After several more years of scratching their heads, they finally hit upon a shape that looked promising. They designed it on a computer, and when it came back from the manufacturer, they nervously tipped it over, wondering if all their work would be for naught. Nope: the Gomboc performed perfectly. “It’s a very nice mathematical problem because you can hold the proof in your hands — and it’s quite beautiful,” Varkonyi says.

Yet the scientists now say that Mother Nature may have beaten them in the race after all. They have noticed that the Gomboc closely resembles the shell of a tortoise or a beetle, creatures whose round-shelled backs help them right themselves when flipped over. “We discovered it with mathematics,” Domokos notes, “but evolution got there first.”

Sources:[url] [/url]

Frederick The Monk
308717.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:08 am Reply with quote

Gombocs are rather expensive as they're made by prototyping machines. There's a chance Stephen has one anyway as it might appeal to him. Perhaps we could borrow one from the makers?

Last edited by Frederick The Monk on Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:03 am; edited 1 time in total

308937.  Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:02 am Reply with quote

Yes. This would be great, but I guess only if we could get one (or four) in the studio. Will you contact them? How expensive are they?

Frederick The Monk
311087.  Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:55 am Reply with quote

Well the gomboc is your top flight monostatic solid so they're not cheap. You can get one for around 1000 Euros - very nicely packaged and individually numbered.

Perhaps we should ask the makers about borrowing a few?

314343.  Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:39 am Reply with quote

This is looking like a runner, so better log this for the notes:

This is more than an aesthetically pleasing object. The Hungarian team has already harnessed this understanding to answer a real-world question: How does an upside-down turtle right itself? They found - after some real tortoise and turtle turning - that a turtle with a tall shell simply waggles its head and feet to start rolling over.

A flat-shelled turtle usually has a long neck with which it nudges itself upright. Geometry is destiny when it comes to turtles.

The stable shape was first dreamt up by Russian mathematician Vladimir Arnold in 1995, who suggested that it would be possible to create a "mono-monostatic" object — a three-dimensional shape that purely by dint of its geometry had only one possible way to balance upright.

But the Gömböc was only perfected after Domokos and his wife Réka developed a classification system for shapes after collecting 2000 pebbles from a beach on their honeymoon and noting which ones were stable and which toppled. ...

Now the Hungarian team is looking to the next challenge - a self-righting polyhedral object, which would have flat sides. They haven't yet managed to find such an object. So, they are offering a prize to the first person to find one: $10,000.

But there is a catch: the prize money is divided by the number of sides of the polyhedron. Based on their turtle and pebble turning adventures, Prof Domokos and Dr Várkonyi believe a self-righting polyhedron would have many thousands of sides. So the prize might only be a few pence.

Picture researchers: Helen, can we find some film of a turtle righting itself?

Propmaster: can we get some of those toys which are little men with a weighted hemispherical bottom that you can't knock over?

314387.  Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:47 am Reply with quote



Frederick The Monk
314473.  Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:06 am Reply with quote

There are two differences between a gomboc and a weeble. While a weeble could in theory be balanced upside down the Gomboc is only stable at a single point. It is therefor always self-righting. Secondly, the Weeble rights itself because of weight in its base, while the Gomboc is the same density throughout.

336959.  Thu May 15, 2008 8:37 am Reply with quote

For when we come to write up the gomboc: Helen has found some film of tortoises flipping each other onto their backs - very nice stuff. Also, there's the Horseshoe Crab:

The tail thing ('telson') looks like a weapon but is actually used by the crab to turn itself right-side up if it gets flipped.

Frederick The Monk
357313.  Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:13 am Reply with quote

You know you want one.....go one.

357327.  Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:43 am Reply with quote

How much?!

After all the publicity the show is about to give to this product, I wonder if some kind of "staff discount" could be arranged :)

357432.  Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:13 am Reply with quote

Surely they'd lend you one, in view of the publicity? They could regard it as advertising!

At any rate, you could ask and if they said no you'd be no worse off.

357493.  Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:09 am Reply with quote

It's not that we can't get hold of one for the recording, Jenny - in fact Gabor flew over from Hungary with a couple of them in his hand luggage and we filmed them last week.

861109.  Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:39 am Reply with quote

For ecologists, the horseshoe is an important creature — a vastly adaptable generalist that pre-dates most species on the planet, with a lifecycle that is interlocked with other animals.

For the scientist, the limuli are an intriguing puzzle, offering insights into evolution, bacteria, vision and species- interdependence.

quite boring
951908.  Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:29 am Reply with quote

Hi all
If a left handed Gomboc was made (mirror image) and both put into say a cylinder would it be a perpetual motion machine
Just a thought

951991.  Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:20 pm Reply with quote

That is actually an interesting thought, though I don't know if it would work. I guess the Gomboc would have to be heavy enough to push against some resistance or other to create energy (she said, no doubt proving ignorance of physics yet again...)

Welcome to the forums, quite boring :-)


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