Balancing Bricks

I included this image of balancing bricks in my qualifying exam, so I need to give credit where credit is due…

Balancing Bricks . . . again . . .

It seems as though billbalance practices the art of Rock Balancing:

Rock balancing is an art, discipline, or hobby (depending upon the intent of the practitioner) in which rocks are balanced on top of one another in various positions. There are no tricks involved to aid in the balancing, such as adhesives, wires, supports, or rings.

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Arduino FIO DS18B20 Temperature Logger

We have a Arduino Fio temperature logger, so now maybe we can increase the accuracy by adding an external temperature sensor. I have a couple of DS18B20 Programmable Resolution 1-Wire Digital Thermometers, so I thought, heck, let’s try one out!

These temperature sensors are much more accurate out-of-the-box, so I don’t need to deal with calibration (which I did need to worry about with the internal thermometer). In addition, using separate, discrete components allows for the possibility of putting temperature sensors directly on/in whatever you may want to measure (rather than merely measuring the ambient temperature) and the potential for multiple temperature sensors with a single Arduino Fio (which are available at

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Desk “supported” by balloons

Another whimsical project that fits perfectly with my research is the “Hot Desk” that the creative agency Boys and Girls created for their reception area:

Plans were drawn, crayons sharpened and collaborators consulted to come up with a reception desk that would put “small and routine” in its place for once and for all. This is the result of months of planning and some fairly heavy scientific research.

A company called Twisted Image finally started production in February. Their job was to fabricate permanent hot air balloons strong enough to carry the weight of the desk. A new type of rubber composite was used to make balloons that were genuinely air-tight and would never degrade, and Caltech were called upon to supply a Heluim/Hydrogen [sic] hybrid gas with an atomic weight 150 times lighter than Helium alone.

Ribbons reinforced with Carbo-Titanium (and in pretty colours) were used to secure the table top to the balloons, tied off on an aerospace grade titanium cleat.
Finally, giant Jenga blocks were carved from solid wood and placed on the reinforced floor.

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that the claims of a “Helium/Hydrogen hybrid gas” and “Carbo-Titanium ribbons” are dubious (to say the least ;-)), but still, a very nice piece of artwork that makes you go, “Hmmm.”