turn, turn, turn
November 2, 2014 10:16 PM   Subscribe

 
Lovely!
posted by erebora at 10:29 PM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


If I wait for decades, this will eventually explode, right?
posted by TheCoug at 11:42 PM on November 2, 2014


How do steel and concrete behave under low strain over very long periods of time? Assuming, implausibly, that the machine could be made to run continuously for billions of years, what would happen?

Paging XKCD....
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:10 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Most materials, especially metals, are elastic under low strain. If the concrete does not give, the final axle will just twist.
posted by narain at 12:25 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


That, plus tolerances in all the gears, which are probably fairly high, especially given how much rattling noise it gives off.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:33 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was waiting for it to start drilling into the concrete... for something to happen!

Sort of reminds me of Joseph Heller's book "Something happened" and I waited for the entire book for something to happen, and nothing did.
posted by greenhornet at 12:38 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I never have dreams like this.

"This machine was inspired by dreaming about gear ratios and considering the unexpected implications of exponential powers."
posted by seawallrunner at 12:41 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


is this what an engineer does when they create art?
posted by el io at 1:08 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's not that the gears would deform once all the lash is taken up, which in itself would likely take millennia; the entire fixture is essentially a giant stiff spring. The mounting posts will deform slightly, the bed will buckle slightly, and so on. The amount of strain is minuscule and can be distributed over all the components.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:43 AM on November 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you tried turning it from the other end you simply wouldn't be able to: the amount of torque you would need would be stronger than the metal itself could stand. In fact, if the rim of the gear you turn moved at a speed of 1 m/s, the rim of the gear five units down would move at the speed of light!
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:05 AM on November 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Just what is it about smoothly operating, beautifully engineered gearwork that is so satisfying? Such a lovely soundscape... once I figured out what I was seeing the whole of it became relaxing to watch and hear.

I have a 98-year-old Seth Thomas clock on my mantel that has more or less been running continuously since purchased. When it chimes the quarter-hours, there is a soft metallic sound and a delightful whirring as brass gears engage and metal mallets gently tap out the Westminster on "Sonora" chimes. You can feel the percussion of it in the bones of the house itself. No electronic device provides the same visceral and aural pleasure.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:22 AM on November 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Previously
posted by ardgedee at 4:58 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm totally in love with Ganson's work. His process is pretty awesome too. Here's how to make gears from straight wire. I once had a whole class making contraptions from welding rod for a week. After that I showed them this video - never seen so many jaws drop in unison.
posted by range at 5:29 AM on November 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's the movement for Particle Man's watch!
posted by Gorgik at 5:29 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
posted by achrise at 5:54 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Machine With Concrete is at the MIT Museum, where my wife (mefite nonane) is curatorial associate for science and technology.

I wrote to Ganson just a few weeks ago with a question:
Some of my friends and I were wondering if you pre-loaded the gears in Machine With Concrete, or if it'll be millions of years before it finishes taking up the gear backlash and starts applying torque to the block.
He replied:
I did not preload the gears. I just assembled the piece and let whatever backlash that was present be part of the initial conditions. My guess is that it would probably have worked fine even if I preloaded them but that would have been more work than just assembling. Yes, it will take millions to take out the backlash as you get closer to the block.... I guess that's my 'safety net'! ha ha
posted by dmd at 6:08 AM on November 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


"This machine was inspired by dreaming about gear ratios and considering the unexpected implications of exponential powers."

No. Being pedantic, but gearing isn't exponential, just multiplied (multiplicative?).
posted by Mr. Big Business at 6:53 AM on November 3, 2014


I love Arthur Ganson's machines. There are a bunch of them at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. Worth checking out.

For the past several years we've attended the Friday After Thanksgiving chain reaction, which always included one of Ganson's machines as the finale. He also acted at the host and the "Hand Of God" when one of the machines didn't quite work as expected.
posted by bondcliff at 7:24 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


> No. Being pedantic, but gearing isn't exponential, just multiplied (multiplicative?).

I'll see your pedantic and raise to anal. if the gear train is a succession of reduction gears of identical ratio X, and there's n such assemblies, then the total reduction is

X**n (or X to the power n).

Exponential.

Yeah this is neat stuff. I particularly liked the making of the wire gear. When I retire I hope to spend days and weeks fiddling with stuff like that. When I'm not travelling or sailing, of course.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:38 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just reminded me that when I was a kid, I went through a stage of designing the reverse of this thing, drawing tons of gear plans for a pedal powered helicopter. I had all these vivid fantasies about flying around the neighbourhood. I even asked my teenage uncle to help me build it. He looked at my drawings and said, "you'd never overcome the enertia". Dream dashed.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:46 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


My favorite Ganson: Machine with 23 Scraps of Paper.

(That clip reinforces his dramatic skill, the way he lingers on the gearworks for just almost too long before panning up. I'm also pretty sure that he could make the machines completely silent if he wanted to, but he makes the gear sounds part of the experience as well.)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:46 AM on November 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wait for it, wait for it...
posted by ckape at 10:59 AM on November 3, 2014


What would happen if it was the concrete that turned, even if only a little bit? Would it create a wormhole???
posted by arzakh at 5:06 PM on November 3, 2014


Yes.
posted by intermod at 8:38 PM on November 3, 2014


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