The oloid
March 18, 2008 12:54 PM   Subscribe

It's art; it's geometry; it's green tech. It's the oloid.

The oloid (pronounced “oh-loh-weed”) was discovered by Paul Schatz. Schatz discovered in 1929 that the Platonic solids could be inverted, and one of the products of the inversion of the cube was the oloid. Based on two circles set perpendicular to each other, it rolls in a straight line such that its whole surface touches the plane on which it is rolled. Its gentle, rhythmic motion is extremely effective in mixing, aerating and purifying. The oloid is extremely evocative visually, resembling a Möbius strip. Schatz came to his geometric insights by studying the work of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Schatz obtained Swiss Patent no 500000 for his oloid mixer. Development has since continued, and the oloid is applied in ever more numerous ways.
posted by No Robots (19 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I needed to see one in motion to get it. Cool.
posted by Plutor at 1:34 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Here's a video of a rolling oloid, albeit a rather shoddily-constructed one.
posted by No Robots at 1:45 PM on March 18, 2008

"Slowly nuzzled the aggregated sludge." If that ain't poetry I don't know what is.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:46 PM on March 18, 2008

Cool post. How to make a wooden oloid. I'd love to try making one of the paper ones in No Robots' link but I think need a template.
posted by iconomy at 1:46 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can buy a carton construction kit. I think I saw a website that has code for generating a template.
posted by No Robots at 1:56 PM on March 18, 2008

oloI'D buy that for a dollar. This rocks.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:04 PM on March 18, 2008

I just made a very very rough paper oloid in like 2 seconds. Here's the paper pattern I used. First tape the "A" edges together, then the "B" edges, then the "C" edges. After taping it together, you've got to sort of puff it out a little bit -- it shouldn't have any hard folds. Rough as it is, it's still rolly fun.
posted by ourobouros at 2:42 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Though I think it should actually be half the height. I may spend the rest of the week making these things.
posted by ourobouros at 2:50 PM on March 18, 2008

I heard about all this just a few days ago, when I visited Don Cruse. Cruse is an ardent anthroposophist and met Schatz at the Goetheanum. Cruse has spent much of his life developing applications for the oloid. All he had to do to hook me was roll one across his kitchen table.
posted by No Robots at 3:00 PM on March 18, 2008

That top/oloid can be bought here.
posted by spasm at 4:43 PM on March 18, 2008

That's really awesome. I've never heard of this.

Another non-round roller (barely visible in that pic, sorry). I've made one of these myself and they are freaky.
posted by DU at 4:45 PM on March 18, 2008

The oloid is pretty cool - I'm going to play around with making a template - but I'm having trouble getting past the weird, amphigoric self-promotional language on the "Discoveries" pages on Schatz's site. "the Invertible Cube, elaborated in accordance with the respective laws, and its specific, rhythmic mobility...." "Schatz viewed the rhythmical motion of inversion, which he had discovered, as offering a fundamentally new approach to technology." Really annoying.

And Burhanistan, that video is awesome. The juggler may just be Michael Moschen....
posted by dilettanti at 6:41 PM on March 18, 2008

ourobouros, thank you! I was using 2 pieces of paper. This should be much easier.
posted by iconomy at 7:29 PM on March 18, 2008

"[A]mphigoric self-promotional language" seems to go with the auto-didactic territory. Compare Buckminster Fuller, for example.
posted by No Robots at 7:32 PM on March 18, 2008

Great word, btw: amphigoric.
posted by No Robots at 7:41 PM on March 18, 2008

Thanks iconomy, I wasn't very clear on the definition of the oloid's surface (specifically the tangents) until your link.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:19 PM on March 18, 2008

It gives me a nagging feeling of being bullshitted by the elegance of the shape. Looking at the animation, that doesn't look an ideal design for an agitator in a pond: the oloid itself may do the business, but the action is driven by a fiddly little mechanism with four rotating axes and three loops that look very prone to snagging weeds and other garbage.
posted by raygirvan at 8:22 PM on March 18, 2008

A lot of development work goes into drives. Schatz originally had a chain-belt drive. Cruse uses linear drives.
posted by No Robots at 6:39 AM on March 19, 2008

A very nice presentation of the oloid is available from the Applied Biophysics Research Laboratory.
posted by No Robots at 9:00 AM on March 19, 2008

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