YouTube / Eames Office
YouTube / Eames Office

Symmetry, a Math Film by Charles and Ray Eames

YouTube / Eames Office
YouTube / Eames Office

In their 1961 short film Symmetry, Charles and Ray Eames explore the mathematical properties of, you guessed it, symmetry. Using animation, they show how mathematicians can measure the relative amount of symmetry any given shape can have. What's amusing to me today about this film is that many of their examples are best known as multi-sided dice used in Dungeons & Dragons and similar games!

Charles Eames discussed the film in a 1974 paper in the Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Here's a snippet (emphasis added):

Another film directly addressed itself to the definition of “symmetry.” It was done with animated drawings. The narrator says, “When we think of symmetry we usually think of a design balanced around a center line. . . . We think of man being symmetrical. . . . There are many kinds of symmetry and some things can be shown to be more symmetrical than others. One test for this is to count the number of positions that an object can take in a box that fits it perfectly.” At this point in the film, cartoons of a man sitting in a chair and a dog beside him are suddenly encased in boxes and their asymmetry is quickly apparent. The narrator says, “A man can fit in a man box only one way, but a card can fit in a card box four ways—front upside down, back up, back upside down, as well as face up.” This sort of explanation continues as the film progresses through objects which are increasingly more symmetrical until it shows a sphere which fits in its box an infinite number of ways. Although the narrator mentions that a mathematician determines symmetry with “a form of algebra called group structure,” the main purpose of the film is to communicate a direct understanding of and feeling for the basic concept of symmetry.


A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.


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