Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RG the master Lego architect

This is the Falkirk Wheel. I helped design it.

Photograph of the Falkirk Wheel, 2004, by Sean McClean, who likes to save photos in a license that requires me to write his name here

At least, according to the Wikipedia article on the Falkirk Wheel.

Of course, it doesn't say that directly, and I've never been to the UK (especially not as far back as 1994), but then again...

After the above image was featured on Wikipedia's main page a few years ago, I read up on the Falkirk Wheel, and scratched my head a bit while I figured out how the caissons (the water-filled containers that hold the boats) stay level.

I eventually figured it out, but discovered that I wasn't the only one. In January of 2007, I wrote up an explanation of how these gears work on my user talk page, from first principles, using Lego Technic gears. Someone then added a link to this explanation to the Falkirk Wheel article.

Photograph of a Lego model of the Falkirk Wheel, 2007, by RealGrouchy, an awesome guy who marks all the photos he uploads to Wikipedia with a Public Domain license so as not to have to bother himself or others with copyright issues (but who retains copyright on his other photos in order to reserve his right to be a prick to those who reproduce them without his permission).

Fast forward three years to February of 2007, when some wank at the BBC writes a fluff piece about Lego, writing erroneously (as newspeople often do) that the designer of the Falkirk Wheel used Lego in the design process. The offending bit has since been removed from the article, and apparently there was also a video (presumably the one on which the article is based, if the BBC works like the CBC) which either was removed or just isn't playing on my browser.

Anyway, that article was then referenced by this guy as a source when he added to the Wikipedia article the claim that "Lego was utilised in the design process to establish how to keep the caissons level whilst the wheel is turning."

Since, as Stephen Colbert tells us, reality is what the wiki says it is, the Falkirk Wheel was designed using Lego, and since I created the Lego model in question, therefore, I must have designed the Falkirk Wheel.

Nice work, if I say so myself.

- RG>


jestingrabbit said...

Funny stuff. By a similar process I have helped design a range of pocket size transforming robots that will soon be destroying the world and/or fighting each other.

RealGrouchy said...

XKCD comic about a year after this post first went up called this process "citogenesis": http://xkcd.com/978/

- RG>