Friday, August 17, 2012

Evolve Your Own Balloon Animal

Balloon twisting is really easy and too often left to the professional twister. Kids can easily master this technique and make relatively large "things" easily and inexpensively.

A mathematical paper on ballon twisting turned me on to this sculptural technique. Shapes that can be unit-woven using undip words can also be twisted from balloons if we represent "photon" edges by lengths of balloon doubled back on themselves. This selective doubling of one-third of the edges turns a three-valent (weavable) structure into a four-valent (balloon-twistable) structure.

To absorb a photon we now simply thread the "electron" path through it and push the twisted portions together. Twisted balloons easily hold this sort of rudimentary join in place.

The method for evolving the undip words is of course the same as for "Evolve Your Own Basket," presented at the USA Science and Engineering Festival this spring. The two rules in the word game are:

  • Rule 1. You can insert ud or np anywhere.
  • Rule 2. An up letter (u or d) can be shuffled past a down letter (n or p).

I am hoping to present this activity at World Maker Faire New York at the New York Hall of Science, September 29 and 30, 2012.

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