Wolfram Blog
Christopher Carlson

The Wolfram Technology Conference Egg-Bot Challenge Winners

January 14, 2014 — Christopher Carlson, Senior User Interface Developer, User Interfaces

We have a programming competition every year at the Wolfram Technology Conference, which in past years was the Mathematica One-Liner Competition (2010, 2011). This year we held the Egg-Bot Challenge, a change of pace to give attendees a chance to exercise their graphics skills.

The idea of the competition was to use Mathematica to generate designs that could be plotted on spheres via Egg-Bots, computer-controlled plotters that draw on eggs, Ping-Pong balls, light bulbs, mini-pumpkins, golf balls… nearly anything spherical or ovoid that is less than four inches in diameter.

The Original Egg-Bot from Evil Mad Scientist

We plotted the competition submissions on Ping-Pong balls (beer-pong balls, actually), and conference attendees voted by requesting prints of their favorites. The designs with the most requests won prizes: Egg-Bots and obsidian spheres engraved with their designs.

The Mathematica code had to generate lists of lists of {latitude, longitude} points, which the Egg-Bots drew by moving to the first point, putting the pen down, moving through the list of points, putting the pen up, moving to the first point of the next list, putting the pen down, and so on until the list was exhausted. This is what our conference attendees came up with.

Plotted curves were a common motif:

Stephan Leibbrandt

Stephan Leibbrandt

Samir Sayegh

Samir Sayegh

Dwayne Jennings

Dwayne Jennings

As well as geometric themes:

Philip Todd

Philip Todd

George Dekermenjian

George Dekermenjian

Tim Walker

Tim Walker

Bernat Espigulé Pons

Bernat Espigulé Pons

Tarkeshwar Singh

Tarkeshwar Singh

Tarkeshwar Singh

Tarkeshwar Singh

David DeBrota

David DeBrota

Bernat Espigulé Pons

Bernat Espigulé Pons

Jesse Friedman

Jesse Friedman

Some submissions departed from purely abstract geometry, like this bikini ball, baseball, and eyeball:

David DeBrota

David DeBrota

John Kiehl

John Kiehl

Christopher Wolfram

Christopher Wolfram

Science got a nod with the chemical structures of the nucleic acids and a star map, both of which were drawn from data built into Mathematica. The most inscrutable entry was also rendered from a built-in data source: a map of flights over our Champaign-Urbana headquarters at the time the submission was sent.

Stephan Leibbrandt

Stephan Leibbrandt

Christopher Wolfram

Christopher Wolfram

Alex Hirsbrunner

Alex Hirsbrunner

And there was this bald head drawn with elementary functions, which gets honorable mention for most creative use of the Egg-Bot’s restriction that it can’t draw all the way to the poles:

Duval Medina

Duval Medina

The third-place prize was shared by three participants, all of whom got the same number of votes. John Francis Palsmeier won third place for this geometric spiral motif:

John Francis Palsmeier

Luis Chiang also took third place for Pac-Man chasing the ghost:

Luis Chiang

And Richard Gass took third for this globe, the code for which is practically a Mathematica one-liner using CountryData["World", {"Shape", "Albers"}]:

Richard Gass

Second place went to Michael Sollami for his quartet of spirograph designs created “manually” via a custom Manipulate:

Michael Sollami

And first place went to the attendee favorite by far, Jan Říha’s composition of sinusoidal motifs:

Jan Říha

In addition to an Egg-Bot, Jan won his design etched onto a three-inch obsidian sphere, which turned out to be a technical challenge. The sphere weighed a hefty 1.5 pounds, too much for the Egg-Bot’s axial grippers to hold in place reliably. I was eventually able to engrave the sphere by turning the Egg-Bot on its side so that the weight of the sphere pushed along the gripper axis rather than perpendicular to it, and by adding double-sided carpet tape to the grippers. Here’s a video of the sphere being engraved—abstract Mathematica code becoming concrete. It took nearly three hours to complete, during which time I was praying to the electricity gods that there wouldn’t be a power flicker.

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Leave a Comment

4 Comments


bleep

lovely project with some interesting uses of technology. I don’t normally bang the drum about stuff like this, but were any of the entries from women? all entries seem to have male names.

Posted by bleep    January 20, 2014 at 3:06 am
    Wolfram Blog

    The competition was open to all Wolfram Technology Conference attendees, which included women as well as men. None of the competition submissions came from women. Thank you for your inquiry!

    Posted by Wolfram Blog    April 16, 2014 at 2:56 pm
thunderbug

Is it possible to download the designs somewhere?

Posted by thunderbug    April 17, 2014 at 10:04 am
    The Wolfram|Alpha Team

    The code does exist but, unfortunately, it is not available to the public.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team    April 25, 2014 at 9:57 am


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