I’m not even going to pretend I understand the finer details of this – but the fact that I’m not a mathematician doesn’t make this project any less awesome. Andrew Carol is an Apple engineer by day, but in his spare time? He’s busy creating things like an Antikythera Mechanism out of LEGO bricks. Modeled after the ancient Greek original, it calculates the date and time of solar and lunar eclipses over a hundred year period. With more than 100 gears and 7 differential gearboxes, it’s accurate to within a day or two. Carol covers the abstract math and the construction of the device in detail, in case you might like to try it.
Of course, not all of us are ready to tackle such a huge project. For those of us who
would tear our hair out in large clumps trying to figure out those gear ratios have a little less time on our hands, Carol has created a smaller project that seems pretty easy to replicate at home. A compass built out of LEGO bricks. No magnet required. Based on ancient Chinese engineering, the device – called a south facing chariot – is part steampunk, part genius. New Scientist shares a step-by-step guide, complete with a parts list and a video of the compass being built. Guess what we’ll be tackling this week?