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February 16, 2011 5:25 AM   Subscribe

A perpetual motion machine based on the improbable physics of Escher's Waterfall.
posted by logicpunk (72 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool. He's clearly very proud of himself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:27 AM on February 16, 2011


Okay, obviously there's a trick angle involved, but I still can't figure out how he did it.
posted by valkyryn at 5:31 AM on February 16, 2011


Longer video, please.
posted by awesomebrad at 5:32 AM on February 16, 2011


Why do I get the feeling this will end up on Mythbusters?
posted by bwg at 5:35 AM on February 16, 2011


I assumed that the upper end of the waterfall is actually on a lower plane farther away from the camera and he used forced perspective, but I can't figure out how the water gets on to the wheel.

Curse these fallible eyes!
posted by Think_Long at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Awesome. As to how he did it: The water looks like CGI water to me, when it flows along the channels. So some of the other bits might be CGI as well? Not sure.
posted by memebake at 5:42 AM on February 16, 2011


Here's how you make the waterfall.

As far as the water, i suspect CGI, as well.
posted by empath at 5:43 AM on February 16, 2011


Nifty 3D "explanation".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:44 AM on February 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Okay, obviously there's a trick angle involved

What? Didn't you watch the video? This man is a wizard, I tell you! A WIZARD!!!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:45 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please don't show this video to any Republican on the House Subcommittee for Energy and Power. Thank you.
posted by Flunkie at 5:46 AM on February 16, 2011 [24 favorites]


Water goes around. And around. And around. You can't explain it! Nobody knows why it goes around!
posted by kmz at 5:47 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


The water channel is completely on the floor of the garage. The vertical supports are cut at the right angle and location to make it appear they connect to the water channel. I'm pretty sure that there are cross beams/panels on those vertical supports as well. I'm not sure how he did the water fall, but my guess is there's a tube from the end of the water channel to a pump hidden in or behind the base that then feeds the water up the vertical support.

Or maybe he just lives in an inverted gravity well.

On preview, I doubt its CGI. The liquid looks weird because it's not flowing uphill as your mind would think it would, but if you keep in mind it's a shallow sloped flat water channel, the liquid looks much more natural.
posted by forforf at 5:47 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Money makes a profit´╗┐ considerably.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:53 AM on February 16, 2011


I want to believe that some guy found an Escher waterfall, constructed out of wood, in his garage one day. Never did he question the impossible dimensions. He just thought, "this is a funny waterfall, lemme post it on Youtube." And soon he'll drag it out on driveway along with other books, toys, clothes, silverware, and sell it to some housewife in a garage sale. She brings it home and looks for a place to put it. No, she concludes, its kind of ugly actually. In the garage it goes.
posted by Taft at 5:54 AM on February 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


I want to believe that some guy found an Escher waterfall, constructed out of wood, in his garage one day. Never did he question the impossible dimensions.

Pretty sure this is a script proposal that Charlie Kaufman has been tossing around for a few years.
posted by Think_Long at 5:55 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the last little jog to the left (from our perspective) isn't actually connected to that back corner. So the water flows out the back, as mentioned above, then is either piped (or there's a separate reservoir) dropping it down that last little bit, which really IS above the waterwheel.
posted by DU at 5:56 AM on February 16, 2011


And soon he'll drag it out on driveway along with other books, toys, clothes, silverware

So he's keeping the monkey's paw and bottle imp?
posted by kmz at 5:57 AM on February 16, 2011


I don't know if this helps, but watch how his shadow hits the top of the sculpture when he walks across it the first time, but not the bottom. The second time looks a little more natural. Of course that's probably CGI as well.
posted by fungible at 5:57 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


When he walks in front of it, there's a shadow cast towards the top right of the video on the floor. There doesn't appear to be a shadow cast in that direction by the waterfall, though. Maybe the whole thing is cgi or composited with splitscreen?
posted by empath at 5:57 AM on February 16, 2011


Actually, it isn't that last little jog that's unconnected. If you pause during one of the times his shadow falls on it, you can see which parts must be in a different place than which other parts.
posted by DU at 5:58 AM on February 16, 2011


Actually, i bet it's split screen.
posted by empath at 5:58 AM on February 16, 2011


It occurs to me, aren't Saturn's rings continuously flowing rockfalls? Nothing to do with this video, though.
posted by XMLicious at 5:59 AM on February 16, 2011


Everything in orbit is continuously falling (and missing)
posted by empath at 5:59 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, that's what I mean.
posted by XMLicious at 6:01 AM on February 16, 2011


Everything not in orbit, but still in space is also falling. Everything not in orbit and in contact with another body is also also falling, but together with that other body. Everything, in short, is falling.
posted by DU at 6:02 AM on February 16, 2011


I'm sure a better writer than I could turn that into a short story.
posted by DU at 6:02 AM on February 16, 2011


. . . would come before the beginning (as well as at the end.) But the end of the story
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:04 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was thinking that if you had rings around the Earth, you could have a really tall tower with a waterwheel on top of it. But I guess that it would infinitesimally affect the Earth's rotation, and more noticeably it would gradually decelerate the ring material out of orbit even if it was made out of gossamer, so it wouldn't be a perpetual motion machine.
posted by XMLicious at 6:07 AM on February 16, 2011


have a really tall tower on top of what, facing which direction?
posted by empath at 6:08 AM on February 16, 2011


if you're putting stuff in orbit anyway, then what you want is solar power.
posted by empath at 6:09 AM on February 16, 2011


It's very likely real. Those things are actually trivial to construct and the only reason you don't hear of it too often is because looking at the whole thing in real life does... well, something to the human mind.

Some just go into a coma for the rest of their existence, others start indiscriminately attacking other people (but never animals), while others still draw strange complicated glyphs over all the walls. What's interesting about the last group is that it's always the same symbols and they always draw them in the exact same order, although placement varies greatly.

Either way, with all direct witnesses putting themselves out of intelligible communication permanently, this is one of the easier types of perpetual motion device to cover up.
posted by Cironian at 6:11 AM on February 16, 2011 [17 favorites]


This could be partially or fully CG.

This could be a composite of two shots, one for the water traveling down the channel and one for the water falling.

If this is a single-shot, wholly in-camera effect (ie. it's real) then my guess is that it's a forced-perspective that doesn't use the more traditional Escher waterfall force perspective method of laying the water channel completely on the floor, but rather is constructed as actual towers with the water channels not being connected at all. In which case to create the water flowing through the channels and the waterfall itself would be produced by a series of (quiet) hidden water pumps. Such pumps are available (fish tank water pumps) and could be hidden in the base of the water channel.
posted by ruthsarian at 6:19 AM on February 16, 2011


Someone explain this, next.
posted by empath at 6:27 AM on February 16, 2011 [20 favorites]


At around the :46 second mark you can see the water flow suddenly accelerate at the top stretch between the two towers. I don't think it's CGI water, just piped in at that location. I'd assume a composite image.

(My eye also occasionally catches what it thinks might be a cut or fade on the middle SE-->NW level somewhere around the :56 second mark, but I might just be imagining things.)
posted by nobody at 6:29 AM on February 16, 2011


The waterwheel also spins way too fast, I reckon, so I'm sticking with CGI water.
posted by memebake at 6:34 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath you are fucking with my head man.
posted by ShawnString at 6:45 AM on February 16, 2011


Someone explain this, next.

This is a great bar trick. It's especially impressive with beer (Bud and Bud Light work best; something about the rice, I think, because Miller Lite is a bit more hit-or-miss).
posted by uncleozzy at 6:49 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone explain this, next.

I would imagine it's something like this.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:51 AM on February 16, 2011


Horace Rumpole lacks imagination, and uncleozzy's just fucking with you. Anyone who's really done this would know that the carbonation in the beer interferes with the required surface tension. The guy in the video uses a classic misdirection when he specifies distilled water. The surreptitious addition of a little--just a touch--hydrophobic Epsom salt is the key.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:20 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"So he's keeping the monkey's paw and bottle imp?"

You know, with all the Antiques Roadshows and Pawn Shop/Auction reality shows, this strikes me as a really good idea for a series, if it's done in the vein of Eerie, Indiana. Incurious people, artifacts, unintended consequences.
posted by Eideteker at 7:23 AM on February 16, 2011


Flunkie: "Please don't show this video to any Republican on the House Subcommittee for Energy and Power. Thank you."

"Ladies and gentleman of the committee, I bring before us an industrious young man who has a solution to our energy problems. I know we don't *really* have any energy problems, but those stinking hippies think we do. Now the great thing about this project is it is based on renewable resources so it will get them to shut their yap once and for all. Plus, it looks really cool when you're tripping on acid. They'll be too mesmerized to protest ever again."
posted by symbioid at 7:27 AM on February 16, 2011


empath, that is the most awesomely evil video I've ever seen.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 7:30 AM on February 16, 2011


Forforf has it. It's built as a channel snaking away from camera. There's no CG involved

It's like one of those sidewalk chalk drawing illusions you've seen:

http://bp2.blogger.com/_Q8p6JEMW_so/Rmq_0cCBtYI/AAAAAAAAACM/8DY-OA3LBKs/s1600/littlelarge.jpg

The falling water is being pumped up through one of the uprights.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:40 AM on February 16, 2011


You know, with all the Antiques Roadshows and Pawn Shop/Auction reality shows, this strikes me as a really good idea for a series, if it's done in the vein of Eerie, Indiana. Incurious people, artifacts, unintended consequences.

Well, there was Friday the 13th the TV show (nothing to do with the Jason movies) that had a premise along those lines. And the current Warehouse 13 is similar too. I rather liked Friday the 13th when I would catch it in reruns on Sci-Fi back in the day.
posted by kmz at 7:47 AM on February 16, 2011


On the wet floor, you can see the uprights are reflected but the second tier of the channel isn't. You can also see that as the water reaches the end of the channel and emerges from behind the upright, it has a highlight that reveals how much closer to camera it is a than the water in the distance.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2011


Anyone who's really done this would know that the carbonation in the beer interferes with the required surface tension.

Yeah, I've only done it with wine (at a party), but some guys tried to do it with beer and soda, and neither worked super-well. The soda kind of half-worked for a second, but then it all started leaking out the bottom.

I'm surprised you guys haven't tried this. It's not that much harder than that thing where you pick up a sphere of milk with chopsticks.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:51 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you ignore the uprights and just look at the channel you can see it snaking along the floor away from camera; the key is the lowering in height of the side walls. Then as said above, water is pumped up an upright. Nicely done.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:54 AM on February 16, 2011


I think everybody understands the standard Waterfall forced perspective illusion. The water over the wheel is the innovation here. And I think forforf has it for that part.
posted by kmz at 7:59 AM on February 16, 2011



I'm surprised you guys haven't tried this. It's not that much harder than that thing where you pick up a sphere of milk with chopsticks.


That sphere thing's frikkin' hard. Cube of milk's much easier to grab because of its edges.
posted by explosion at 8:01 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You guys are just haters. I'm telling you, it's the rice, or the beechwood, or something, because Bud products are easy-peasy to do this with. It also helps if the glass is a "cheater" pint, with the thick bottom. I think the heavier glass up top compresses the column of beer better.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:03 AM on February 16, 2011


It's not that much harder than that thing where you pick up a sphere of milk with chopsticks.

To add challenge to it I pick up a globule of that red sphere thing from the new Star Trek. I do create the occasional world destroying black hole but practice makes perfect.
posted by kmz at 8:03 AM on February 16, 2011


It also helps if the glass is a "cheater" pint
Ah! You're talking about draft beer, right?
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:06 AM on February 16, 2011


Come on people. The spinning water trick on a table is a cinch. Kids' stuff. The REALLY hard trick is spinning the water on the top of your own head. Works with beer too. I haven't tried it with wine.
posted by chavenet at 8:08 AM on February 16, 2011


It's a really great bar trick if you can do it with a black and tan. Keeping the layers separate is the hard bit.
posted by bonehead at 8:09 AM on February 16, 2011


Ah! You're talking about draft beer, right?

Oh yeah, obviously. This doesn't work at all with bottled beer. The water memory of the bottle's shape is too strong and it tries to form a narrow column that can't support the heavy top part. It's actually kind of neat to watch. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I had a friend shoot it in slow-motion, and you can actually see the inverted-bottle shape form for a split second after you remove the glass, before it collapses.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:19 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to say, I was kinda hatin on the "IT'S CGI" comments just due to the cheapness that would imply as a video...

A forced perspective construction is cool, because it's still "real" in a sense... and I was honestly hoping for that experience.

But, after watching that video, it just looks too, well... CGI. Hrmph.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:22 AM on February 16, 2011


The water memory of the bottle's shape is too strong and it tries to form a narrow column that can't support the heavy top part. It's actually kind of neat to watch.

Pro tip: not believing in homeopathy makes this a lot easier.
posted by bonehead at 8:30 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: Bud Light is actually a 60C dilution of real beer, which makes it an ideal cure for drunkenness, vomiting, hangovers, or bad decisions.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:41 AM on February 16, 2011


I'm gonna say forced perspective. The water isn't falling on the wheel. The wheel moves via electric motor.
posted by CrazyJoel at 8:41 AM on February 16, 2011


I just want to know why he has two buckets of water standing by when he only needs one glassful. Something's fishy here.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:49 AM on February 16, 2011


Occam's Razor.
posted by jscott at 8:55 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


One last one. Master illusion craftsman Shigeo Fukada created a near-perfect recreation of the lithograph in sculpture. Here is a video showing it moving and then revealing the trick at the end.

No CGI.

Or maybe, I AM CGI
posted by jscott at 9:08 AM on February 16, 2011


I've been falling so long it's like gravity's gone and I'm just floating.
posted by Sailormom at 9:29 AM on February 16, 2011


"Well, there was Friday the 13th the TV show (nothing to do with the Jason movies) that had a premise along those lines. And the current Warehouse 13 is similar too. I rather liked Friday the 13th when I would catch it in reruns on Sci-Fi back in the day."

I'm familiar with Warehouse 13. Too gungho, quasi-governmental task force, hi-powered. The Friday the 13th series sounds like it's closer. But I guess I'm looking for something that's a little more light-hearted, where people aren't hunting for these things, just stumbling onto them. I'm pretty tired of the "one sane character" trope so I'd need a new angle of attack before I developed the idea further. Maybe instead of one sane person who has to save the well-meaning but bumbling shop-owner, we have instead a character motivated by greed, either an underling or a competitor, who manages to save the day by acting entirely in their own self-interest (and yet somehow fails to cash out spectacularly enough to quit). That might be more fun to write.
posted by Eideteker at 9:58 AM on February 16, 2011


The water in the channels is real. The water that's falling and hitting the mill is CGI.

It's damned cool. But considering how wet the floor is, they seem to have had some problems with earlier takes.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:51 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


big deal. I made one of these Escher installations before. I stuck fish and birds in the same glass tank. playing the tape back, it was absolutely horrific.
posted by dracomarca at 1:15 PM on February 16, 2011


split screen - at the top landing, just before the water falls off the platform notice the different movement of water on either side of the vertical beam that is in front of that area.

compositing! it's magic!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:23 PM on February 16, 2011


Looks like I picked the wrong day to give up salvia.
posted by Splunge at 2:33 PM on February 16, 2011


I find it amusing that current technology has progressed to the point where someone not employed by a major studio *could* conceivably do something like this via CGI in their spare time with equipment in a back bedroom.
posted by mrbill at 8:34 PM on February 17, 2011


If you look at the shadows, especially when the guy casts moving shadows over the structure at the end, you can see what's going on. The channel is flat on the ground, the uprights and walls of the channels are built up. A pump brings water through one of the uprights and deposits it right before it falls off the ledge; that last little bit is the only part of the channel that's actually elevated.

No CGI or video editing trickery here, I think; you can do it all with cleverness, some math, and a lot of time.
posted by kprincehouse at 10:54 PM on February 17, 2011


A very helpfully diagrammed hypothesis about the design of the waterfall.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:30 PM on February 18, 2011


Watch it in the 1080HD version, full screen.

I think the wooden frame is 'real', as in a perspective trick as sketched out in the BoingBoing article.

But I think the water is CGI.

Exhibit a: The way the water flows, especially after going round the first corner, seems very jerky, as if it was rendered at a slightly lower framerate than the rest of the video.
Exhibit b: something about the way the water is poured out of the jug - its a real jug with real water, but after it hits the structure it doesn't look 'right' to me
Exhibit c: The waterwheel spins too fast and too suddenly
Exhibit d: Water falling about 80cm and hitting a rapidly spinning waterwheel would spray everywhere. Despite the large puddle on the floor of the garage, there is no hint of any splashing or water droplets hitting the concrete floor around the waterwheel.
Exhibit e: Why does the water have blue dye in it? Was this to make the rendering look slightly more convincing?

Some simple computer-game level CGI with some fluid physics would be enough to animate the water. You'd need to know what you were doing, but it wouldn't be expensive or take a lot of CPU time.

I suspect when he pours the water out of the jug, it is just disappearing into a hole. The water flowing on the structure is added later with CGI.
posted by memebake at 1:39 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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