Everything is Awesome, When You're a Part of the Measurement Team

How To Measure Planck’s Constant Using Lego

Planck’s constant comes in because of an historical idiosyncrasy in the way power units have been defined. Since 1990, almost all electrical measurements have been calibrated using a system of units in which Planck’s constant, along with various other constants, are defined rather than measured.

By contrast, mechanical power relies on ordinary SI units, which rely on a measured value of Planck’s constant. “By comparing electrical power in conventional units to mechanical power in SI units, h can be determined,” say Chao and co.

The Ocean and its Toys

The Cornish beaches where Lego keeps washing up

[T]he container ship Tokio Express was hit by a wave described by its captain as a “once in a 100-year phenomenon”, tilting the ship 60 degrees one way, then 40 degrees back.

As a result, 62 containers were lost overboard about 20 miles off Land’s End – and one of them was filled with nearly 4.8m pieces of Lego, bound for New York.

No-one knows exactly what happened next, or even what was in the other 61 containers, but shortly after that some of those Lego pieces began washing up in both the north and south coasts of Cornwall. They’re still coming in today.

Reminiscent of the Friendly Floatees rubber ducks, turtles and frogs.

Bring Me the Passengers, I Want Them Alive!

Star Destroyer made from Cardboard. Just in case a full-scale Millennium Falcon is beyond your capabilities.

[T]he major benefit of using cardboard is that my little guy can lift up such a massive ship and play with it. Also, I used material that was all destined to be recycled or thrown out, and with the exception of white spray paint and styro-foam craft balls, I had everything on hand to make it. So, the basic structure is heavy corrugated cardboard, lighter cardboard for the detailing on the conning tower and ‘sandwich filler’ greeblies, a packing tube for the engine nozzles (sawed into three pieces), cereal box cardboard for lighter details, duct duct tape, masking tape, and a lot of carpenter glue. All told, it took about three days (including one very late night to do the detailing), and I now have templates worked out for the overall structure. It has an internal support structure (one center piece running down the middle with ‘ribs’ about every 5″), and the overall length is shy of three feet. As far as making ships of this scale, it was a relatively quick build-up and a great weekend project.

Templates not included in the link, unfortunately.

Nothing to Do with that Little Blue Pill

Make your own epic-scale water weenie!

One of the classic squirt mechanisms is the “water weenie,” where the water is stored under pressure in a length of elastic tubing, and the force to eject the water is provided by the restoring force of that tubing. Often the elastic tubing is a simple length of latex “surgical” tubing, or in the case of the classic Wham-O Water Wiennie, a literal rubber balloon. While people have almost certainly been squirting each other with these things since (we’re guessing about ten minutes after) the invention of the water balloon, the technology has more recently been reinvented as the “constant pressure system” used in modern high-end water guns.

Here is our take on the water weenie: How to make your own high-performance, arbitrary-capacity squirt machine, starting with basic hardware.

Are Forts Your Forte?

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, Again

“We also get to talk about tension and compression,” he said, though he avoids technical terms. “We talk about pushing and pulling.”

His big innovation is using blankets to wrap two large cushions so that they create a large wall panel that can stand on its edge. In fact, he creates several such panels. Then he uses another blanket or sheet to attach adjoining panels, in effect connecting the walls of the fort.

What the Uck?

The Free Universal Construction Kit

The Free Universal Construction Kit … is a collection of nearly 80 adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten popular children’s construction toys. By allowing any piece to mate with any other, the Kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems — enabling radically hybrid Constructivist play and the creation of heretofore impossible designs.

To be clear: the plans are free, not the parts:

[T]he kit — put together by F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab — isn’t a physical product unto itself; it’s a set of 3D models suitable for use with Makerbot and other 3D printer systems..

The Plans, from “uck”