Wednesday, 20 April 2011

And that's TATT!

Different times have different toys, different ways to explore constructive creativity. Mechano or Lego come to mind to name some of those amazing influences on the development of creative minds around the globe.

Lego provide the 'atomic' toolkit, solid pieces of matter, stacked together. The Affordable Tensegrity Toolkit brings us closer to the unpredictable nature of quantum mechanics. The regular structure come with a twist, or a wobble, a bit of surprise based on very simple rules of construction. You build atoms, which basically consist of plenty of empty space. The empty space and the lightness of 'solid parts of matter' become apparent in a finished tensegrity structure.

Two tetrahedra with opposing chirality
With six struts, you can build the first platonic solid, the tetrahedron.

Trigonal dypyramid 
With nine struts, a structure with surprising properties emerges. Three tensegrity prisms (or tensuls) stacked on each other form the trigonal dypyramid.

Flattened dypiramid
This structure flattens under pressure and bounces back happily.

Trigonal Prism

The trigonal prism offers less excitement, due to lack of symmetry across its corners. It squeezes down, but doesn't bounce back too spectacular.

The cube can be build in two ways. Above you see a cube where all the corners rotate in the same direction. The faces appear square, yet while lying on a face the vertical struts 'lean' to the side. With mixed chirality, the struts cross each other orthogonally, yet each face looks rectangular.

Two stacked orthogonal cubes
Of course, it takes 24 elements to stack to cubes together.

Octahedron (view onto triangular face)
Yet it just take 12 struts for the third platonic solid, the octahedron. Its symmetry in combination with elastic tendons provides lots of bounce.

Octahedron (corner view)
Pushing the corner towards each other flattens the model.

Cuboctahedron (view on triangular face)
With 24 struts you can build the cuboctahedron, or Vector Equilibrium. This structure shows the transition from cube to octahedron, and has thus six square and eight trigonal faces.

Cuboctahedron (view on square face)
All of that (and things I haven't thought of) can be constructed with a maximum of 24 toolkit elements. The remaining two platonic solids, icosahedron and dodecahedron, require 30 struts. The simple joining methods allows it to put smaller models together (like the two stacked cubes) to create larger ones.

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