Tuesday, September 22, 2009

111,111,111 x 111,111,111=12,345,678,987,654,321

The defining feature of a Gömböc is the fact that it's got just two points of equilibrium: one is stable and the other is unstable. If you put a Gömböc down on a flat surface, resting on its stable equilibrium point, it will stay as it is. "Even if you kick it a little, it will come back to its resting position at the stable equilibrium point," says Domokos, a mathematician at Budapest University of Technology and Economics. "The other equilibrium point is unstable. You can balance the Gömböc at this point a bit like you can balance a pencil on its tip: the slightest push will make it fall over." It's impossible to balance a Gömböc on any other point: if you try, it will move off in a specific direction. That's why the Gömböc seems to have a life on its own: put it down at a non-equilibrium point, and it will start rolling around in a systematic way until it has reached the stable equilibrium position. In other words, the Gömböc is self-righting.

Plus Magazine | The Story of the Gömböc

No comments: