Loop - Pool on an elliptical table
July 26, 2015 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Loop - Pool on an elliptical table. The ellipse has two significant points, called focuses, which have a remarkable geometrical property that is almost always explained using the example of an imaginary pool table. "If a pool table is the shape of an ellipse, then a ball shot from one focus will always rebound to the other focus no matter in which direction the ball is shot." That sounded interesting! Wouldn’t it be fun, I thought, if I could build one of these imaginary tables? So I did.
posted by dng (22 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Totally saw such a pool table on some math show on PBS like 20 years ago.
posted by 7segment at 2:05 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Next, let's ee him take on the cloth untrue, the twisted cue, and elliptical billiard balls....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:16 PM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


I want to play this.

INSERT INTO List (bucket) VALUES ('Loop');
posted by djeo at 2:17 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's amazing that, when I read about something cool on a website, my interest is inversely proportional to the professionalism of the website.

That is to say, if the site looks like it's made of hand-edited HTML or hosted on blogspot, I'm a lot more interested than if it looks like there's an art staff behind the site, it sounds like it's trying to talk up the project, it contains clever agency-crafted wordplay or has a custom domain, for the reason that I don't expect to be sold something. This, the moment I laid eyes on the page behind that first link, I assumed there was going to be a place to buy it from.

It is a cool idea though.
posted by JHarris at 2:31 PM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I saw pool tables like this at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley or the Exploratorium in San Francisco in the 1970s. There's definitely one at my local science museum. It's cool.
posted by chavenet at 2:39 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I keep meaning to give the Port Eliot festival a go but we never get around to planning anything. Anyone know if its worth making the effort, other than for round pool tables?
posted by biffa at 3:42 PM on July 26, 2015


Yeah, neat. So for a two-cushion shot, you'd aim to roll over the spot instead of the hole with the first bank , which would continue on to the hole on the second rebound.
posted by ctmf at 3:42 PM on July 26, 2015


I'd love to see the "here's how they built it" video.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:52 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


There was totally one of these at Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC, in the early 80s.
posted by MrMoonPie at 3:58 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh. I just watched the Numberphile video about this. Weird timing.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:08 PM on July 26, 2015


This is absolutely awesome, but definitely not new (version from 1964).
posted by zachlipton at 5:21 PM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


When I'm a zillionnaire this will be in my billiards room.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:05 PM on July 26, 2015


Foci?

This website seems to love the term "focus points" (or "focuses" in the text of the FPP, I couldn't find that phrase on the website), perhaps that's a British convention?

Also, from the FPP text: "...a remarkable geometrical property that is almost always explained using the example of an imaginary pool table." Almost always? In discussing common applications of an ellipse ceilings first come to mind for me.
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 6:21 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see a video of a game played by (at least) journeyman pool players, who understand things like draw and follow shots and how to use spin (English) to affect the way the cue or object ball rebounds when making a bank shot. I suspect most loop games would last for about 30 seconds if the players were any good.
posted by axiom at 8:21 PM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


the mexican artist Gabriel Orozco did this too.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:37 PM on July 26, 2015


That occurred to me too axiom. At some point in the process of building an apparently very expensive new elliptical pool table, you'd think you would: A. google the phrase "elliptical pool table" to make the most basic inquiry into whether the idea was original, and B. talk to some people with some experience playing pool. It's not that this is bad, because it's actually a pretty cool thing, but the videos would certainly be better if they involved someone who looked like they had ever played before.
posted by zachlipton at 11:03 PM on July 26, 2015


My student union had a circular pool table, which also had a circular rail on the inside (like an island) so the playing area was a torus.
It was staggeringly hard to play, so very few people bothered.

I'm sure it was called some derivation of whirlpool, but I can't find a picture of it.
There are though millions of circular, elliptical, triangular, coffin shaped, zigzag shaped, boat, Tshirt shaped, and Banana shaped pool tables on the internet.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:49 AM on July 27, 2015


In the future all pool tables are round
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:29 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


So a pool game composed entirely of bank shots? Either really fun or really frustrating, I can't tell which.
posted by zardoz at 5:38 AM on July 27, 2015


Foci?

Focapodes
posted by iotic at 8:06 AM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Remake billiards all you want, put it on as many different tables as you want, just remember this one rule:

Do not play against Nausicaans unless you have a spare heart waiting.
posted by qcubed at 8:46 AM on July 27, 2015


My student union had a circular pool table, which also had a circular rail on the inside (like an island) so the playing area was a torus.

No, a toroid playing surface would be like in a video game where it's a square that wraps around on all four edges. Also, I gotta go for reasons COMPLETELY UNRELATED to developing a toroid pool table
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:00 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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