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Bicycle Riding on Square Wheels

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the larnin'-more dept.

Education 406

Roland Piquepaille writes "Before starting our long working week, let's relax with this story of a bicycle with square wheels. No, it's not a joke. And it even rides smoothly. But there is a trick: the road must have a specific shape. The Math Trek section of Science News Online tells us more about this strange bicycle -- actually a tricycle with two front wheels and one back wheel. Read this overview for some excerpts and a picture of the tricycle, or the original article for an additional animation."

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Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770727)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

I love you, SCO$699FeeTroll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770796)

Key fact:

# In order to parallel to topic, you will endeavor.
# It causes the new thread, or comparatively, will reply in other one comment.
# Being perhaps the contents which are contributed already, in order to avoid the repetition, before contributing, you will read other one message.
# Contents of comment are easy to know, the sea urchin, clear subject will be acquired.
# The thing, instigate ones, foreign ones, illegal ones and attack ones which have deviated from topic are done moderate, probably will be. (Moderate including also those which are done, if it adjusts threshold value in the page of user setting, it can read all messages, but.

Smooth ride (2, Troll)

gid13 (620803) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770733)

I'll bet it stays smooth on turns. :P

Read the whole article? (5, Funny)

baudilus (665036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770813)

From the article:

Steering remains difficult, however. If you turn the square wheels too much, they get out of sync with the inverted catenaries.


I wonder what shape my wheels have to be to ride smoothly over the screwed up roads that my town refuses to fix?

Re:Read the whole article? (1)

CkB_Cowboy (731756) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771007)

It's probably possible to create a wheel that could traverse the earth's equator, but it would just be really big, and not really cost effective to buy a pair for your bike. - CB

Re:Smooth ride (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770906)

I'll bet it stays smooth on turns. :P

And you could forget rim brakes.

i wonder if this could revive the Peugeot bicycle brand...

Re:Smooth ride (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771016)

I guess you'll need to modify the cylindrical shape of the road to something 3D for turning.

Man... (-1, Offtopic)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770735)

Those stupid canadians. Is there nothing they don't screw up?

Allrighty then (5, Funny)

JSkills (69686) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770744)

I'll get right on that change-the-shape-of-all-of-the-roads project right away ...

Re:Allrighty then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771047)


from the state of the roads round here,i thought you had already started

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770749)

Wasn't this the technology The Daleks used to climb stairs?

Junior school physics (5, Informative)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770750)


The reason the trike has smooth motion is simple - the centre of mass (where the axle is attached) doesn't move vertically. It's exactly the same reason as for a hoop rolling on a plane surface except the hoop is more obvious.

When you turn, the square shape doesn't fit so well, so the c.o.m oscillates vertically, and you get a more bumpy ride - the larger the angle you turn through, the worse the fit, and the bumpier the ride. Wheels (round ones) don't have this turning problem so much; my vote goes to the round wheels :-)

I remember doing a 'Granada power game' (schoolkid teams are set problems to do, and compete to produce the best solution). For the challenge in the year we took part, we had to construct (entirely from cardboard) a device that would travel forward under its own power for 5m, turn through 45 degrees, forward 1m, turn back through 45 degrees and throw a ball-bearing into a target, accuracy being rewarded. There were 2 walls at given positions that you had to get over as well, at 2.5m and 5.5m from the start. We just cut slots in our wheels - there were some really outlandish solutions to getting over the walls though :-)

Simon

Re:Junior school physics (2, Interesting)

greenhide (597777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770801)

For the challenge in the year we took part, we had to construct (entirely from cardboard) a device that would travel forward under its own power

So, how'd you make it move on it's own power? I'm intrigued.

Re:Junior school physics (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770904)

So, how'd you make it move on it's own power? I'm intrigued.

Presumably elastic bands were permitted in addition to the cardboard.

Re:Junior school physics (5, Funny)

Binestar (28861) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770908)

So, how'd you make it move on it's own power? I'm intrigued.

Cardboard fueled boiler for the steam engine I would assume.

Re:Junior school physics (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770924)

the centre of mass (where the axle is attached) doesn't move vertically
Minor nitpick: the smoothness of the ride has nothing to do with the vertical motion of the center of mass, but with the motion of the axle. The c.o.m of a wheel is usually at the axle, but it doesn't have to be. If it isn't, you'll get vibrations at high speeds, at on this bike you probably wouldn't notice it.

Re:Junior school physics (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771042)

These two statements seem contradictory:
...the smoothness of the ride has nothing to do with the vertical motion of the center of mass, but with the motion of the axle.
Versus this:
The c.o.m of a wheel is usually at the axle, but it doesn't have to be. If it isn't, you'll get vibrations at high speeds...
Vibrations do indeed seem like the opposite of "smoothness" to me.

Re:Junior school physics (1)

jpBabelFish (768685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770940)


The reason which has the smooth movement in trike is simple, - the center of the lump (it attaches the axle, or) does not move vertically at the place. As for that it is other than being clearer, it is the same reason of rolling the level surface exactly is.

When turning, shape in square is not agreeable so well, therefore c.o.m vibrates vertically, uneven riding in a car obtains more if - the conformity which is worse than uneven riding in a car, and it turns, it is larger... angle. (Circular ones) so there is no this rotary problem in the wheel; My poll goes to the circular wheel: -)

I ' have remembered that the Granada power game ' is done, (the team of schoolkid the fixed problem which it should do rivals in order to create the best solution). We joined for challenging the year, we (completely) assemble the device, revolution and the revolution which it moves first under itself power for 5m from the cardboard 45 degrees, first with 1m with 45 degrees and you must throw the ball bearing to the accuracy which can give the target and remuneration. You and in excess you must obtain there were two walls in position of the specification which has 2.5m and 5.5m from the start. We cut the slot of our wheels exactly, but - there are to times when it gets over the wall really the wind change there was the solution: -)

Simon

I guess... (5, Funny)

Stu Catz (728228) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770751)

they did re-invent the wheel, not a good invention though...

hot dish? (2, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770761)

See picture here [sciencenews.org]

Ya yew betcha! I wonder if that basket on the bike is to hold the hot dish? Only in Minnesota would we spend the time determining if square wheels would work... Perhaps from the potholes on 494?

I reside in Minnesota so I am permitted to make these important scientific observations :)

It's open to the public -- you can go ride it! (4, Interesting)

melquiades (314628) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771009)

I believe it's still sitting in the basement-level lobby of the Olin/Rice building at Macalester. You can just walk up and give it a ride.

In practice, it doesn't work perfectly: the wheels slip a bit on the upslope. But if you get a bit of speed, it rolls along nicely! Quite fun.

ingenious concept (3, Funny)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770763)

Perfect for Michigan roads.

Re:ingenious concept (2, Funny)

Roofus (15591) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770905)

I guess you have to be from Michigan to get that joke =) Are your roads made of half cylinders?

Re:ingenious concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771036)

Michigan "roads" have pot holes so large that an 18-wheeler could fall into one and never be found again...

old news (1)

jokrswild (247507) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770765)

I rode one of these at COSI (in columbus, ohio) maybe 10 or 15 years ago. Pretty cool idea, but I always thought that turning at intersections would be kinda hard....

Groklaw? (1, Offtopic)

ponds (728911) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770773)

Why does teh blog theme look almost exactly like Groklaw????? Should Pam stop observing IP lawsuits and get involved?

Re:Groklaw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770842)

It's all part of the same site. Duh.

By the way, the article poster said "a tricycle with two front wheels and one back"... wrong. Look at the picture.

OH, and I've seen this before. *yawn*

Re:Groklaw? (1)

Meowing (241289) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770849)

Why does teh blog theme look almost exactly like Groklaw????? Should Pam stop observing IP lawsuits and get involved?
The theme came from Radio, where Groklaw started and the linked blog is hosted. They gave Ms. Jones permission to use the theme when Groklaw moved.

Re:Groklaw? (3, Informative)

kgarcia (93122) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770886)

they are both radio blog themes, based on Bryan Bell's Woodland's Theme [bryanbell.com]

Woohoo! (1, Redundant)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770775)

Great!

Now all we need is to lay some curved roads all over the place, make loads of these bikes, and we can all ride bicycles with square-shaped wheels!

I'm calling my Senator right now!

Could it be... (5, Funny)

wviperw (706068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770777)

The successor to the overly hyped Segway?

Wheels? Who needs wheels when rhombuses work perfectly fine!

Re:Could it be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770832)

Actaully I think it would be rhombi ;) Why is there no +1 Anal mod?

Re:Could it be... (1)

wviperw (706068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770885)

Doh! I thought about putting rhombi, but didn't think it was an actual word. Alas..

Good for elementary schoolers (1, Flamebait)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770785)

Ok, this would have been impressive when I was 12.

Being a bit of a bike nut I notice this bike would have some issues with turning and fixing flats. Notice that massive saddle (probably gel.) The closest i could find to a real world application of this would be cog trains which have existed in europe for probably a hundred years (notably in the Alps.)

Isn't this kinda light-weight for slashdot? I mean, where's the tech angle?

Maybe I could wire up my Zaurus as a trip computer.

Re:Good for elementary schoolers (5, Funny)

Defender2000 (177459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770840)

Being a bit of a bike nut I notice this bike would have some issues with turning and fixing flats.


Don't you mean, fixing rounds?

Rounds...Wankles... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770984)

Don't you mean, fixing rounds?

Imagine coming up with pneumatic tires for such a thing. I suppose they'd need to be tubulars, as a clincher simply wouldn't work out. Then there's the non-uniform pressure, which means some parts of the tire wear out faster.

The real engineering isn't these catenaries, but try making an actual usable vehicle from them.

I'm sure Wankle started out something like this.

WORTHLESS HORSESHIT! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770787)

what's with you fucktarded slashdot people? what moron would make a fucking bike with fucking square wheels? only a fucking retard, that's fucking who! DUURRRH!

Re:WORTHLESS HORSESHIT! (0, Offtopic)

raider_red (156642) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770810)

We'll have your anger management class booked for later in the week. Please enjoy the complimentary tranquilizers.

Re:WORTHLESS HORSESHIT! (2, Funny)

Mr. Darl McBride (704524) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770936)

what's with you fucktarded slashdot people? what moron would make a fucking bike with fucking square wheels?
If you've ever tried to bicycle across giant corrugated steel planes like I have, you would recognize the value of this contribution.

Now if only the train to Chicago didn't run 1/3 as fast as the train to New York and leave 2 hours earlier.

The answer is - A circle! (3, Interesting)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770790)

The question at the bottom that states they don't have a wheel the same shape as the surface, I tend to disagree, wouldn't a common circular wheel, while going over a steep hill both be circular shapes? What about tank tracks? They are both flat? A flat wheel and a flat surface = the same!

Re:The answer is - A circle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770820)

A gear and tooth combination would also work. The wheels could be gears and the road could just be a "stretched out" gear.

Re:The answer is - A circle! (2, Insightful)

jd142 (129673) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770979)

wouldn't a common circular wheel, while going over a steep hill

No, because the hill is really at best a half circle.

I'm not sure if tank tracks count as a wheel since they don't orbit a central axis. Even if they were, the tank treads aren't flat when they are in use. They're a sort of oblong shape. You might as well say a wheel is also a line because if you cut the inner tube in half it lies down and becomes a line.

If the wheel is circular, then the road would have to be circular as well. Like going around a small, perfectly spherical asteroid. But is it still a road if it doesn't actually lead anywhere?

Re:The answer is - A circle! (2, Funny)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771035)

wouldn't a common circular wheel, while going over a steep hill
No, because the hill is really at best a half circle.

Yeah, but the Earth is a circle ;)

Cities Will Be Redesigned Around This... (2, Funny)

crazyaxemaniac (219708) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770791)

It's the next Segway!

reinventing the wheel (2, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770794)

literally

What next? (5, Funny)

Bobdoer (727516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770798)

Will be be seeing pentagonal wheels or maybe even octogonal wheels? Or better yet n-gonal wheels where n is an incredibly large number?

we have them already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770883)

Think about it. What happens to a n-gonal shape as n approaches infinity? Starts looking like that round shaped wheel I have on my car already!

Spirograph (5, Insightful)

brundlefly (189430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770799)

This is basically the same principle as the odd-shaped pieces in your old Spirograph set [hasbro.com] ....

This is great! (1, Informative)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770812)

This story is almost as interesting as the latest case-mod story or the latest news about the state of the Linux x-box port.

Now the road.... (5, Funny)

ericlp (749865) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770814)

Today in the news: Inventors discover new way to make road construction ( and repair ) even more expensive....

Before the square wheel... (5, Funny)

theendlessnow (516149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770815)

Stan Wagon invented "clippy" the Microsoft Paper Clip!! Genius! Sheer Genius!

He's working on a water powered car I hear... just requires a really big hill.

No word if the car will support square wheels or not.

That's pretty cool... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770816)

...but does it run Linux?

Slashdot is old (0, Troll)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770822)

Orginally posted in '98 only updated in 2004. Isn't that a little bit old news? But you get used to that on slashdot :-). It's a cool concept but most people could find that out, you don't need to finish univerity for that I hope.

oh yeah (0)

unknown_host (757538) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770824)

"for just about every shape of wheel there's an appropriate road to produce a smooth ride, and vice versa.
surely Mr Wagon(!), you have never driven on Indian roads!

I had a life before I got karma

If you want to build your own bicycle... (1)

SmackCrackandPot (641205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770827)

...obviously you'll need a square drill [us.edu] .

The wonder of assumptions... (3, Funny)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770828)


Economics

"The following theory assumes there are no external factors"

External Factor = People

Sociology

"The following theory is based on a majority sample"

Majority = 50 in a sample of 99.

Slashdot

"The following company/technology categorisation is correct given the sample data"

Sample data = Slashdot

And now we have

"The following design is correct for a given definition of road"

Reminds me of the old maths joke

"1+2=4 for sufficiently large values of 2 and small values of 4"

From the article (5, Funny)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770830)


A catenary is the curve describing a rope or chain hanging loosely between two supports. At first glance, it looks like a parabola. In fact, it corresponds to the graph of a function called the hyperbolic cosine.

Yeah, I always get those confused...

[frink]Oy, with the wheels and the squares and the riding and the graphing, ng'hey, glaven.[/frink]

Re:From the article (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771027)

A catenary would look a lot like a parabola if you were considering only a narrow range of values of x. Expand the series for y = (e ** x) + (e ** (-x)) and you will see why this is so.

So much for (1, Redundant)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770833)

So much for reinventing the wheel.

And I was always told that was the wrong approach to use.

You know its a slow day at slashdot when.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770835)

You know its a slow day at slashdot when, oh shit can you just fill in the blank...

Proprietary Roads! (2, Insightful)

serutan (259622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770838)

Seems to me this is a good analog to proprietary file formats. Instead of having people pay tolls, maybe the government should build roads with inverted caternary bumps and sell the square wheels!

Isle of misfit toys (1)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770857)

Where's the squirt gun that shoots grape jelly?

Re:Isle of misfit toys (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770973)

Nice reference. Now I have to go all day thinking, "We're all misfits!" and....and the song...

I'm sticking with the wheel (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770865)

How many roads do you have in where you live that has perfect bumps in it?

Also, steering with this would be impossible. Basically, this goes in a straight line only.

And, this is good food for thought. Perhaps this priciple can be applied to other things.

Web design with Mathematica?!? (5, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770866)

If you follow the link to the designer's own web page [stanwagon.com] , and scroll to the bottom, you see:
Created by Mathematica (February 3, 2004)

I just realized that any geek cred I thought I had was just an illusion. I don't ever want to hear jokes about Emacs again. Understand?

Re:Web design with Mathematica?!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770972)

Mathematica has had a web page export feature for several years now.

Re:Web design with Mathematica?!? (5, Funny)

vanza (125693) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770987)

Dude, we're talking about *square wheels*. The guy surely is not a big fan of using the right tool for the job (in any situation, it seems).

*BOOM* (5, Funny)

H3lldr0p (40304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770867)

It was at this point that my brain attempted to explode:

"So far, no one has found a road-and wheel combination in which the road has the same shape as the wheel."

Tricycle sounds like the Dymaxion Car (3, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770871)

That backwards tricycle sounds like the Buckminster Fuler's Dymaxian Car [washedashore.com] . That beast was designed for minimum air resistance. Also having the two wheels in front provides better stability when cornering during hard braking. Still, tricycles do have some roll-over stability problems because the CG is closer to the sides of the wheelbase.

Now I know (1)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770876)

Why those people , who drive like crazy on the roads, drive like so....it's the road stupid, not the driver.

Old News! (4, Funny)

back_pages (600753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770877)

I've seen the South Park kids travel to French Canada. They have square wheels on their bicycles as well as their cars. I really don't see what the big excitement is all about.

old joke (3, Funny)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770882)

They should have used triangular wheels. One less bump.

Oh woooo, I hope he didn't get paid to do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770888)

I mean, how many people clicked that link and thought "how to make a square wheel work?" and then thought "Well, make the road humpy do that the corners of the wheel match the depressions"

This is not news. This is anti-news.

Elegant solution- (2, Interesting)

baudilus (665036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770909)

While a mathematical solution is technically perfect, I can think of an easy way to determine the requisite road shape: use a square wooden block, cut a hole in teh center so you can roll it, then do so over a reasonably soft surface. You can even observe how the shape of the catenaries elongates as the rotational speed stays constant but the horizontal velocity increases. Would be fun for downhill rides. :)

Duh, physics class 101 (4, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770911)

Every college physics class has one day where they talk about this,where the road is lumpy in a specific way, and then the bicycle with square wheels can drive. You know what else has a smooth ride? the space shuttle crawler. If you weigh enough, you just crush anything that would otherwise be a bump. I'll be happy when I see a vehicle besides a tank whose method of ground contact changes shape to accommodate for the road (i.e. tank tread on a bicycle). That would be sweet!

http://www.fulcrumgallery.com

4th grade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770915)

I rememeber back in 4th grade my school took a field trip to the boston science museum and they had one of these. Im in college now. Thanks for keeping up with the time slashdot.

Finally we get some improvements! (4, Funny)

comedian23 (730042) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770923)

I was wondering when someone was going to get around to improving the wheel. The current version is so impractical, inefficient, and has such a limited range of applications it has been screaming for a face-lift. Someone get this guy a $250 million research grant ASAP!!!

Maybe you'd get better balance? (1)

ajutla (720182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770927)

Random possible application of this otherwise pretty useless idea: maybe it's easier to ride than a bike with actual round wheels, for [insert obscure technical reason here]. Maybe they could have gyms or something where toddlers or really young kids could get the hang of how to ride a bike. Or at worst they could be used in an amusement park or something. Ride a bike with square wheels! Fun! Or whatever.

That would be redundant. (1)

baudilus (665036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771043)

The bike in the article is a trike (i.e. three wheels). Riding one of this would be no different than riding a normal trike. There would be no advantage - it may actually be counterproductive to teach someone ride on a two-wheeler with square wheels. That's much harder than normal wheels.

why the hype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8770935)

this has been there for years. I two classes with Wagon, one 5 years ago, one 6 years ago, and he brough the square-wheeled bicycle up in both, repeatedly in the calculus class.

having taken a spin on it once a few years back (I think the original bike was two wheels in back, one in front; didn't work so well that way), I wasn't particularly impressed. it's a neat concept/fact and to see it in action was interesting for all of about 15 seconds, even as a math major, which I was.

On the bandwagon (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770939)

Stan Wagon, a mathematician at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., has a bicycle with square wheels. It's a weird contraption, but he can ride it perfectly smoothly. His secret is the shape of the road over which the wheels roll.

Is it me or do others find it amusing that a chap researching vehicles with square wheels has a surname "Wagon" ?

nick ...

Meow/Chirp, Meow/Chirp (5, Funny)

malia8888 (646496) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770948)

From the article: A square wheel can roll smoothly, keeping the axle moving in a straight line and at a constant velocity, if it travels over evenly spaced bumps of just the right shape. This special shape is called an inverted catenary.

Dear Esteemed Committee: I would like a million dollar grant. As a good geneticist I am going to see if I can cross a cat with a canary. I will call it "cantenary"! (Since you refused my grant for the monkey with four asses research) Part bird and part cat--that is something useful. Regards, Dr. Mephisto...

It's about time (0)

thpdg (519053) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770949)

Well, it makes this innovation easy...

A Wagon with square wheels.

wrong description of the trike (4, Informative)

gosand (234100) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770962)

The Math Trek section of Science News Online tells us more about this strange bicycle -- actually a tricycle with two front wheels and one back wheel.

It actually has 1 front wheel and two rear wheels.

A Lesson about Inventions (2, Insightful)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770964)

The best ones conform the invention's design to fit the environment, not the other way round.

brakes (1)

tasinet (747465) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770966)

hey-the brakes will be killer though.. It is the only thing I c that is better than the original invention [ round wheels ;) ]

Re:brakes (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770990)

Not a problem if you disc brakes, which is pretty much the way to go for mountain bikes becauses they can grip harder without damaging the rim and will not heat up the tires through friction. Also, since they are center mounted, they stay clean from dirt accumulated by the wheels.

Reminds me of the british 20p coin (4, Interesting)

Funkitup (260923) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770968)

This coin has 7 sides so you wouldn't expect it to roll smoothly.

However, they are cleverly made so that the diameter is equal right the way around the coin. Therefore, since the center of mass doesn't move, the coin will roll smoothly in slot machines etc. Try it!

I'm not sure whether the 50p is the same or not. I don't have one in my wallet to test as I used it to buy a packet of wine gums...

MMmmmm wine gums...

Farming.. (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 10 years ago | (#8770993)

wow, looks like the furrows in a field, if you had a large rectangular solid, you could move across a field without disurbing the furrows.. hmm, wonder if there is something useful in that idea.

Reuleaux Triangle (5, Interesting)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771011)

Also neat is the Reuleaux Triangle [whistleralley.com] that is not round but even so has a constant width as it rotates. If it is used as a roller between two planks, it will roll smoothly and the distance between the planks will remain constant. This java applet [whistleralley.com] demonstrates it.

Gear and rack (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771013)

This is a gear and rack [bostongear.com] assembly. It's a funny shaped one, but it's a gear and rack.

Standard gear and rack interaction is well understood. Racks are usually straight-sided, while gear teeth are involute curves. [howstuffworks.com] Two gears which will mesh with the same straight-sided rack will mesh properly with each other. This fact reduces the size of simple gear inventories from O(N^2) to O(N).

"Mesh properly" has a specific meaning. There has to be contact on both sides of each gear tooth when the axes of the meshing gears are a constant distance apart. Getting this right improves gear life by orders of magnitude.

There's a nice little section in the back of every Boston Gear catalog which explains all this. Available online [bostongear.com] , too.

Nonstandard rack shapes are rare, but not unheard of. The drive system on the IBM RS-1 electrohydraulic gantry robot used a curved-sided rack.

Not A Joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771019)

Says Who?

Alternative Transport (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771023)

the square bicycle could only ride straight line... predetermine road track... well... does that sound like a train to you? have the inverted thigie lay-out in straight - but it can be curve to left and right a bit, put the bicycle or a bicycle with an engine with it, get it to drag some coach at the back, and it is a new train design. :-)

--
baganjermal[at]gawab[dot]com

Speed bumps... (1)

chriseh (220654) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771025)

So, I guess a speed bump on that type of road would simply be a flat surface. :-)

Where I live [montreal.qc.ca] (here [montreal.qc.ca] for anglophones), the roads are bad enough in the spring that we could probably all ride on square wheels. There is even talk of having an International Pothole Festival here right before Jazz Fest!

Let me be the one to point out the obvious, (2, Insightful)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771026)

way

too

much

time

on

his

hands.

Square Wheel? (5, Informative)

Himring (646324) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771028)

Ok, I'm risk asking this, but by definition, a "wheel" cannot be "square...."

wheel [reference.com]

n.

1. A solid disk or a rigid circular ring connected by spokes to a hub, designed to turn around an axle passed through the center.


And, without pasting it too, a disk must be circular....

So, whatever those things are on that bicycle frame, they are not wheels

Perfect (0)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771040)

For roads filled with speed humps!

Safety first! (1)

ro_coyote (719566) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771041)

On any other kind of road I think I'm going to be needing a cup for this thing. And I don't mean the drinking kind, either.

Never understood... (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771045)

Do mathematicians have to justify the purpose of their paper/research in the papers they publish? If so, I would be interested in reading it for this project because he would have to be a damn good English professor as well to pull that one over the eyes of the committee. :-)
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