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Jan. 13, 2011

The Dance of the Strandbeests

by Leslie Taylor

Click to enlarge images
This clip from Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention profiles kinetic sculptor and artist Theo Jansen. Jansen builds giant insect-like structures -- which he calls 'strandbeests' -- out of yellow plastic tubing. He lets the strandbeests go on the beaches where they move independently with the wind.

Video by BBC

 
On his Web site, Theo Jansen explains some of the mechanisms his "animals" have "adapted" over time, including a wind storage system:
Self-propelling beach animals like Animaris Percipiere have a stomach . This consists of recycled plastic bottles containing air that can be pumped up to a high pressure by the wind. This is done using a variety of bicycle pump, needless to say of plastic tubing. Several of these little pumps are driven by wings up at the front of the animal that flap in the breeze. It takes a few hours, but then the bottles are full. They contain a supply of potential wind. Take off the cap and the wind will emerge from the bottle at high speed. The trick is to get that untamed wind under control and use it to move the animal.
Listen to Theo Jansen speak more about his strandbeests in his TED Talk.
About Leslie Taylor

Leslie is the online editor at Workboat.com and NationalFisherman.com. She has a background in oceanography and is passionate about getting non-scientists and young people to realize how cool science can be. She is also Science Friday's former web editor.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

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