sand plotter for Technorama
-- The Swiss Science Center
-- Winterthur, Switzerland
"Mathemagie" opened on September 19th, 2003.
This is a large group of permanent exhibits that touch upon diverse
mathematical themes. Sisyphus now toils upon his perch, in the heart
of the space.
created by Thomas Hofer
The poster for the MatheMagie show. "Spuren" translates to
"tracks" or "traces."
Watching some of the first paths, on the night of the
The real view looking up at the underside, from
first floor (compare to virtual, below):
In mid-May, 2003, I received a phone call from the director
of Technorama. He was interested in the possibility of permanently installing
a sand plotter as part of a large mathematics exhibition. The time frame
was extremely tight-- the exhibition was set to open in less than four
months time. I flew to Zurich in June for a two day visit, and after
seeing the intended site, proposed a much larger version-- 3 meters
in diameter. After several weeks of technical analysis, the highly capable
staff at Technorama and I agreed upon the structural design and components,
to be fabricated in Switzerland.
The site is suspended within a large opening between the
first and second floor exhibit spaces:
Virtual models I constructed during the design and planning
Animation of virtual
model, as seen from below (2Mb)
Photos of fabrication progress in Technorama shop (Aug.
Testing new acceleration profiles on a variety of computers
at home, prior to sending them off for testing on the new mechanics
in Switzerland (Sept. 7):
Heinz and I worked back and forth over the 7 hour time
change pretty much nonstop during the short two week period we had remaining,
as the electromechanical construction neared completion. I made a number
of improvements to the software (adjustment of the ball's speed depending
on how far out from the center it is, and smoother acceleration / deceleration
allowing much more rapid path completion). He affixed the membrane and
attached the wooden ring on Sept. 11, and we were ready for the first
real test path:
from AutoCAD in my office------->to Technorama's shop:
Then for some fun-- test paths: (9/12-13, 2003)