The Chaos Engine

Chaos mathematics is great! Its in nature, fractals, markets, pretty much everything. It was “discovered” by Henri Poincare in the 19th century as a response to the 3 body problem.

The basic problem is too see if a system of three bodies, Sun, Earth & Moon say, are in a stable orbit. What Poincare discovered was the effects of chaos, specifically the importance of starting position. Through repeating a simple math function, iteration, you can create amazingly complex pictures and unpredictable results like:

Benoit Mandelbrot (20 November 1924 to  14 October 2010) was central in recognising the similarity of problem between getting the size of a cloud, the length of the UK coast, galaxy formation and many others.

The final major project idea is to build a 3 body problem so that can be seen in a tactile real world setting, as well as the java/flash other versions. here’s the lego prototype: Chaos Engine - Lego Prototype

Using lego for the structure i have suspended a pendulum made of play magnetic bars, swinging above two towers of reversed polarity magnets to provide a repellent magnetic force to mimic the forces of gravity in the original 3 body problem. Although these are repellent if you have it as attractive the magnetic attraction forces completely outweighs gravity and the pendulum just points at whatever magnet catches it first. A bigger version would get around this as the mass of the pendulum increases… but why dont i just get weaker magnets? hmm must think on this.

But after the success of the lego prototype, I eventually remembered that I had a tripod in the attic so i could upscale a bit. More magnet bars and off we go, there is audio for this video but very quiet due to my camera.

The tripod has a hole through it, hollow for easy webcam access maybe? I’ve got to find a well balanced way to hang the pendulum off the tripod, hopefully with a few cms of space for the webcam to get a good image. the pendulum itself should be reliable without interference to act as a proper pendulum, the periodicity of a pendulum is proportional to its length, regardless of its weight.

The collection of toy mag-rods needs to be replaced with something better, 1/4 inch iron rod? need to check with Matt & Wayne in the fabrication about best material. Kim in the electronics lab has a variable resistor thang that i can affect the mag force both repellent and repulsive.

I hope to map the movements of the chaos engine using flash (probly), a red ball at the end of the pendulum to create a fractal image as it moves thru space. could even charge punters to pay for there own one.

how long is the swing in seconds?
How good is a 2 minute image?

questions, questions,

thanks for reading, apologies if you were looking for answers.

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