21 Dec 2018

The Mystery of cube-shaped poop

I know this blog is supposed to be written as a puzzle blog. I should write about a topic that is related to puzzles, but I cannot ignore this unique topic. Before I start writing, I will tell you that this topic may not be suitable for people who are about to eat a meal. The reason is, as you already know seeing the title, it's about wombat droppings.

All right. I warned you enough, so if you feel awful while you are eating your meal, I'm not going to accept any complaints, O.K?

I have read an article about wombats. It's on the National Geographic website. The surprising thing is that wombats are the only animals in the world that produce cube-like shaped scat. This article intrigued my curiosity. It's like a biological puzzle.

There is one postulation that is common which is cube-shaped scat cannot be rollable and can be put around the territory to mark its territory to other wombats.

This postulation describes the purpose of using cube-shaped poop, it's not how it is made. I'm interested in how it can be cube-shaped. I thought it's strange that a cube which is about 2 cm size exists in nature. There must be a reason.

The first thing that popped into my head is a process of making macaroni. There are different shapes of macaroni extruders and depending on the extruder attachment, the shape of macaroni would be very different.

Patricia Yang, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says that at first she thought that they have square anuses. However, the samples of intestines of two roadkill wombats showed the expectation was wrong. The pig intestine is a relatively uniform elasticity, but the wombat intestine is a much more irregular shape. She thinks that two distinct ravine-like grooves in the wombats' intestine help make cube-shaped poop.
Hmm, the wombat mystery is getting more interesting.

Mike Swinbourne, from the University of Adelaide, says that the shape of wombat poop is more likely related to the dry environment.
Bill Zeigler, Brookfield Zoo and Peter Clements, the president of the organization of Wombats SA, have the same opinion that two elements, intestine and moisture, might be the reasons.

What I thought strange was "two distinct ravine-like grooves of a wombats' intestine." I wonder why there are two grooves, not four? I couldn't find the picture of two grooves. I wonder if two grooves are spiral or straight?

I think it's rare to see something shaped like a polyhedron in nature. I know bacteriophages have a dodecahedron head or there are rocks that are shaped like a hexagon. I don't think those are strange but wombats!

Can you guess how it's made?
This must be a new type of puzzle challenge from wombats!

photo credit: tomosuke214 ウォンバットの「チューバッカ」@多摩動物公園 via photopin (license) photo credit: Andrew C Wallace upwind via photopin (license)


We need to have a conversation about wombats - The Oatmeal 


3 Dec 2018

Kazu Harada, Automata Creator in San Francisco

The world advances towards the development of cutting-edge technology every day. Technological development is remarkable and makes our life convenient. I'm interested in the state-of-the-art technology, it gives me dreams of what I had thought might be impossible would be possible.
Having said that, I like low technology, like automata and cannot run away from the fascination of automata.

As I have introduced him on this blog before, there is an automata creator named Kazuaki Harada (aka Kazu Harada) who has a worldwide reputation.

I have heard that he is going to join the program, "Curious Contraptions, Inside the Fairy Tale Factory" at Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco. This has already started from 8th November until 20th January 2019 and he will join from 3rd December to 15th December 2018. There will be three days off (Fri.7th, Sat. 8th and Fri. 14th) for him during the period. If you would like to meet him, please avoid these days.

Exploratorium "Curious contraptions"

While he is at Exploratorium, one of the events "After Dark" will be held whose theme is "Glow" and he will join the event too. I heard that he is going to make automaton by using something that glows, but he hasn't decided the details yet, so it's going to be a surprise!

After Dark: Glow
Thursday, December 6, 2018  6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Honestly, I have never seen his creations with my own eyes because he lives in Japan and I live in Australia. However, I know his creations are awesome through the internet.

The Nobel Prize Organization seems one which is fascinated with his creations and recognized his talent too. Well, of course, he was not nominated for a Nobel Prize. He has taken on a request from the Nobel Prize Organization and made two automata that are related to two novels; The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and The Bluest Eye.
Those two creations are going to be at the event which is related to the Nobel Prize in Literature that will be held in UAE in February 2019.

In March 2019, he is going to attend World Wood Day in Austria. He attended the same event this year that was held in Nepal. I found a YouTube promotion video of World Wood Day where Kazu and his wife wearing funny glasses are on the video.

His activity is spectacular, but there is more. I heard that there is a plan to publish his book. Isn't it wonderful? I'm anticipating more activities from him in 2019.

What? Oh, yes, my automata plan. Well, yes of course, as I have written I will make the second automaton next year. I promise.
Kazu is a man of the world creator and I'm a woman of my word creator.

Kazuaki Harada: https://twitter.com/kazu_automatist
Exploratorium Twitter: https://twitter.com/exploratorium