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Posts Tagged ‘Lego

“Maybe the only significant difference between a really smart simulation and a human being was the noise they made when you punched them”*…

 

The nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is tiny; it has only has 302 neurons. These connections have been completely mapped in the OpenWorm project, which is building a complete simulation of the worm in software. One of the founders of OpenWorm, Timothy Busbice, has embedded the connectome in an an object-oriented neuron program– which he has installed in the simple Lego robot pictured above…

And the result?

It is claimed that the robot behaved in ways that are similar to observed C. elegans. Stimulation of the nose stopped forward motion. Touching the anterior and posterior touch sensors made the robot move forward and back accordingly. Stimulating the food sensor made the robot move forward…

email readers click here for video

Are we just the sum of our neural networks? More at “A Worm’s Mind In A Lego Body.”

* Terry Pratchett, The Long Earth

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As we cram for the Turing Test, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that the BBC banned “I Am The Walrus” for play on their air.  The Beatles had grabbed and used a snippet of a BBC broadcast of King Lear (which has also influenced Lennon’s lyrics), but that wasn’t the problem.  Rather, the lines “pornographic priestess” and “let your knickers down” were deemed inappropriate.

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Written by LW

November 22, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you”*…

 

p. 409. Clipperton plays tennis with the Glock 17 held steadily to his head

How to get an 11-year-old interested in the works of David Foster Wallace? Crack out your copy of Infinite Jest, and recreate it in Lego. That was the project embarked upon back in April by American English professor Kevin Griffith and his 11-year-old son Sebastian. They’ve just finished, and – running to more than 100 scenes, as I guess any recreation of a 1,000-plus page novel would have to – it’s something of a masterpiece. It certainly puts these Lego scenes of classic literature to shame.

Griffith and his son had the idea to “translate” Infinite Jest into Lego after reading Brendan Powell Smith’s The Brick Bible, which takes on the New Testament. “Wallace’s novel is probably the only contemporary text to offer a similar challenge to artists working in the medium of Lego”…

Read the more at “David Foster Wallace novel translated by an 11-year-old – into Lego,” and see more at at the Griffiths’ web site, Brickjest.

* David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

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As we piece it all together, we might send transformational birthday greetings to Paul Goodman; he was born on this date in 1911.  A man of many parts, Goodman earned a PhD in literature from the University of Chicago, where he taught until he was fired for insisting on his rights openly to avow his bisexuality and to fall in love with his students.  He went on to become a novelist, playwright, lay therapist (he co-founded the Gestalt Therapy movement), social critic, anarchist philosopher, and public intellectual.  The author of dozens of books, he’s probably best remembered for Growing Up Absurd and The Community of Scholars.  Part of the group known as “the New York intellectuals” (which included Daniel Bell, Norman Mailer, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Norman Podhoretz, Mary McCarthy, Lionel Trilling, and Philip Rahv) he was a regular contributor to PoliticsPartisan Review, The New Republic, Commentary, The New Leader, Dissent and The New York Review of Books. 

Any page of Paul Goodman will give you not only originality and brilliance but wisdom – that is, something to think about. He is our peculiar, urban, twentieth-century Thoreau, the quintessential American mind of our time.

Hayden Carruth

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Written by LW

September 9, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”*…

 

Readers will know that (R)D delights in the works of Banksy.  So it will come as no surprise that your correspondent has a warm spot in his heart for Jeff Friesen.  An award-winning photographer, Friesen is also a dedicated dad who makes LEGO dioramas with his daughter June.  Their latest project:  a series of meticulously-constructed homages to the great street artists himself…  a series that Friesen and June call “Bricksy.”

See them all at “Bricksy: LEGO Banksy.”

[TotH to My Modern Met]

* Banksy

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As we resolve, with Banksy, to “speak softly, but carry a big can of paint,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1892 that Australia’s first real film production house, The Limelight Department, was set up by the Salvation Army in Melbourne.  In its 19 years of operation, the Limelight Department produced both evangelistic material (from the simplest lantern slides to Christian epics of redemption) and secular documentaries commissioned by private and government contract.  In all, the operation created about 300 films of various lengths (making it one of largest film producers of its time) until it was summarily closed by a new Commander, a puritanical Scot who “protected” Salvationists from films for many decades.  Sadly, the Limelight films were destroyed in the 1950s.

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Written by LW

June 11, 2014 at 1:01 am

Leggo my Lego…

Readers will recall The Antikythera Mechanism (“A Connecticut Yankee in King Agamemnon’s Court?…“), the oldest known scientific computer, which was built in Greece probably around 100 BCE.   It was recovered from a shipwreck in 1900; but its purpose remained a mystery for over a century, until archeologists and scientists realized its ingenious intent: it’s an extraordinarily-accurate astronomical clock that determines the positions of celestial bodies– an analog computer with over 100 gears and 7 differential gearboxes– accurate to a day or two over its range.

Andrew Carol has rebuilt the device…  in Lego:

Read the story and see photos here.   And for extra fun, check out Carol’s Lego homage to Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine.  As he says of his work,

Having always loved complex mechanical devices, and never having fully outgrown LEGO, I decided to explore where computational mechanics and LEGO meet. This is not LEGO as toy, art, or even the MindStorms® fusion of LEGO and digital electronics. This is almost where Steampunk and LEGO meet. Hand cranked devices that perform complex mechanical tasks.

[TotH to Universe Today]

As we revel in the satisfaction of making round pegs fit, we might recall that it was on this date in 1271 that Genghis Khan’s grandson and Coleridge’s celebratee Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.  By 1279, the Yuan army had defeated the last resistance forces of the Song Dynasty, which it succeeded.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree

 

 

Homage is where the heart is…

On the tenth anniversary of the release of The Matrix, Trevor Boyd and Steve Ilett invested 440 hours in painstakingly recreating 990 frames of the film– the famous “Bullet Time” dodge sequence–  in Lego.

See the finished sequence:

And marvel at the extraordinary fidelity of their craft in this side-by-side comparison:

ToTH to Scott Beale and Laughing Squid

Readers might want to tweet the news that the “Top Words of 2009” (as culled by the Global Language Monitor) are in. The winner?  “Twitter— the ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters.” (And then again, readers might want to choose their words carefully…)

As we wander around Plato’s cave, we might take celebratory dip in the pork barrel today in honor of Andrew Jackson, whose election as 7th President of the U.S. (as solemnized by the Electoral College) on this date in 1828 both manifest and accelerated America’s shift toward its democratic (if not Democratic) future.

Old Hickory

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