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Mathematica

In December 1999, while at the Boston Museum of Science for the Massachusetts FIRST LEGO League competition, I saw a kinetic sculpture that inspired me to make a model of it out of LEGO (see Figure 11.27).

Figure 11.27 A kinetic sculpture at the Mathematica exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science.

Here is the note that was next to the sculpture:

A linkage. Until 1873, most mathematicians thought it impossible to make a linkage where circular motion is converted into straight-line motion without any sliding. Peaucellier was awarded a prize for his solution in that year. A solution that Sarrus had published 20 years earlier (shown here) went completely unnoticed.

The model was an example of how an early designer (Sarrus) figured out a way to turn rotational motion into up-and-down motion. Unlike the rack-and-pinion alternative, this transfer of motion happens without any sliding. Some people had said that it couldn't be done, but he proved them wrong. Using a worm gear and the largest white hub, I made a model of this sculpture out of LEGO (see Figure 11.28).

Figure 11.28 The linkage system from the Boston Museum of Science realized in LEGO. A worm gear on the motor slowly turns a 40-tooth gear.

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