# KITP: zen of kinetic art

The Kavli Institute has a new piece of kinetic art which has captured the attention of many of the locals…

Jean-Pierre, Kavli Institute artist in residence a cofounder of the algorists, recently put up a lovely piece at the bottom of the staircase at my end of the Institute.

It makes geometric patterns in sand, ever changing.

Some start off simple

but they move.

It is endlessly fascinating, the kids love it (sometimes a bit too much, but the patterns regenerate) and it has kept a number of physicists distracted while they try to figure out how he does it.
(I have a theory, based on observing the kids’ epxeriments, and the fact that my credit cards were not all destroyed when I sat on the edge…).

It is really lovely.

Also check out Jean-Pierre’s other work at his website above, and that of the other algorists, it is art that seems to have innate appeal to a lot of physical and mathematical scientists.

1. #1 TLP
April 27, 2009

Did someone say it grabbed the attention of the lolcats? LOL!

2. #2 dreikin
April 27, 2009

the fact that my credit cards were not all destroyed when I sat on the edge

It takes a lot to wipe a card, so that’s not really good evidence against it being magnetic. Neither, really, would not being able to pick it up. So what’d the kid do, hold some ferromagnetic metal near it?

3. #3 Steinn Sigurdsson
April 27, 2009

One early conjecture, by some theorists, clearly, was that it was pure E-M fields, but you’d need quite strong fields, and I now have two pieces of evidence that it is a small permamagnet on 2-degree of freedom mechanical arms – the lift-up-and-replace tests the kids did (no one over 12 would dare), and the fact that Aaron saw the insides…

so I’m guessing something like a 2-D cutting controller from a numerical machine tool, and a small strong rare earth magnet.

Clearly finite number of symmetric patterns of motion,
next thing to figure out is if the patterns cycle or are randomly chosen, and how many there are…