Self-Righting Object

Weeble Wobbles are played out! Recently two mathematicians from Hungary designed and built an object that rights itself without a weighted bottom. The mathematically constructed object (made of wood and pictured here) has just one stable and one unstable balance point. The object is like a pinched sphere, with a high, steep back and a flattish bottom.

The scientists noticed that their self-righting object looked like a turtle, but have measured several dozen turtles and found that turtles are nearly self-righting but need to kick their legs a bit to come all the way around. Since all of the self-righting objects the scientists have found are smooth and curvy, they wonder if it is possible to create a self-righting polyhedral object. They are offering a prize to the first person to find one: $10,000, divided by the number of sides of the polyhedron.

The scientists are guessing that a self-righting polyhedron would have many thousands of sides. So the prize might only amount to a few pennies. Smart!

1 Comment »

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