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Eternal wave

Albert K. Harris, an embryologist at UNC Chapel Hill, probably never published anything about tensegrity but in one of his papers, "Cytokinesis: The mechanism of formation of the contractile ring in cytokinesis." he wrote:

"Systems of interacting forces do not have to be very complicated before the unaided human intuition can no longer predict accurately what the net result should be. At this point computer simulations, or other mathematical models, become necessary."

Phil Earnhardt brought this quote to my attention, with a nice comment: Harris writes with a wonderful plain-speaking style and makes a delightful commentary about modeling.

I think tensegrities are the systems of interacted forces mentioned by Harris. In fact I think a tensegrity is a system of interacted forces stripped to the bone.

In the beginning I made relatively simple tensegrities and my experience was that my intuition let me down and I needed mathematics to correct me. Now, I have more experience and I build more complicated constructions. But my main experience is that still my intuition lets me down and I need mathematics even more.

Once I made a relatively simple tensegrity and I described this construction by a general mathematical formula. It was this formula that made me realize that the variations of some of the strut lengths in this tensegrity design were limited. In fact it was only thanks to this mathematical equation that I discovered that below a certain length, the strut could be replaced by a string.

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Marcelo Pars