MIT Students Create 2,000 Pound “megalith” That Can Be Moved With A Fingertip

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College students at the Massachusetts Institute of Engineering have created and created a 2,000 pound sculpture that can be rocked, rotated, lifted, and hauled upright with minimal energy (+ film).

A group of MIT college students led by architect Brandon Clifford and architectural historian Mark Jarzombek designed the McKnelly Megalith to investigate mathematic ideas observed in ancient sculptures.

McKneely Monolith by MIT

The object was designed utilizing a digitally-controlled milling machine to minimize foam blocks according to a pc-produced design. This foam core was then covered with layers of fibre-reinforced concrete to create a challenging and heavy outer surface.

Despite the fact that the object weighs 2,000 lbs (907 kilograms), it can be moved with a fingertip, in accordance to Clifford. It can also be hoisted upright by just a tiny quantity of men and women.

McKneely Monolith by MIT

Clifford and Jarzombek began the task by asking college students to work out how monumental structures had been constructed by ancient civilisations like the Incas in Peru or the inhabitants of Easter Island.

The college students were then asked to layout a sculpture that displays related concepts about balance and excess weight, and could also “perform” by becoming effortless to move.

McKneely Monolith by MIT

The object developed by the students is reminiscent of an abstracted Easter Island head, but has much more rounded edges and planes. These characteristics distribute its excess weight in a way that allows the sculpture to be effortlessly moved, in accordance to Clifford.

“There are obviously some zoo/anthropomorphic qualities to this megalith,” Clifford informed Dezeen.

“The unique intention was not to create some thing that seems like a encounter or a head, but in operating through these calculations, the inspiration of offering a spectacle that performs, forced the design and style to contemplate each of these motivations simultaneously (functionality and perception).”

McKneely Monolith by MIT

The concrete sculpture was placed on a green at MIT’s campus in Cambridge, just off the Charles River from Boston.

The college students made a film demonstrating how they could rock or spin the object, making use of boards underneath to allow it to slide or shimmy across the lawn.


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Using ropes looped by means of a hole in the object, just a few college students could pull the object fully upright, with a few others delivering a stabilising counterbalance from ropes on the other side.

A video displaying how the two,000 pound sculpture can be rocked, rotated, lifted, and tilted upright


“There was a moment of elation when it lastly stood up,” Clifford said. “It weighed more than a auto and however you could move it with a fingertip.”

Clifford grew to become interested in megaliths following reading research that suggested that the monumental heads of Easter Island had been moved into area upright. Anthropologist Carl Lipo discovered that the sculptures had been made with a forward-tilting centre of gravity that could have allowed them to shimmied into spot.

“There is so considerably understanding trapped in these ancient civilisations that we are not equipped to take care of today,” said Clifford.

McKneely Monolith by MIT

He and Jarzombek set up the Megalithic Robotics course at MIT to combine their expertise of computerised design and methods employed in ancient architecture. The course is one particular of a variety of “cross-studio” initiatives at MIT produced to motivate college students and tutors from different disciplines to perform with each other.

Clifford is the co-founder of US studio Matter Style, which not too long ago completed an installation referred to as Microtherme, an set up comprised of a wooden box concealing curved concrete surfaces heated at diverse temperatures.

McKneely Monolith by MITDiagram – click for bigger image McKneely Monolith by MITPrepare 1 – click for bigger image McKneely Monolith by MITStrategy two – click for greater picture


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