Dabeaz

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Friday, November 27, 2009

 

Fun with block towers

Lately, I've been having a lot of fun playing with wooden blocks--a great toy for toddlers and grown-ups alike.



There's a certain primal simplicity to blocks. Sure, you can stack them up in simple towers or piles. However, my inner geek makes me want to build more tricky structures. For example, this diamond structure:



Or maybe a diamond with huge spire



Or flip the whole thing upside down if you're inclined:



A more interesting challenge is to build an arch.



And if you can keep that stable, to find out how much you can stack on top of it



Lately, I've been experimenting with expanding the number of dimensions. For example, this interesting structure:



Or this more complex extension of the idea



Somewhere in all of this, there's probably some kind of software development analogy. Maybe it's the fact that even with simple components, you can make some pretty cool things. Or maybe it's somehow related to the same inner urge that drives a programmer to build their entire application out of closures, generators, coroutines, actors, tasklets, or something similarly "simple."

Then again, maybe it's more of a warning. After all, there are those pesky end-users who are going to put their dirty hands on everything when you're done (observe their look of terror).



... and well, we all know what happens next.

Anyways, that is all for now. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday!


Comments:
How is babby tower formed?

Seriously, though, I think I'm gonna go buy some of those blocks after work today, because that looks like a lot of fun. I don't have kids, but I think my cat will like it.
 
This post was a lot of fun, and well presented.

You look so happy - that's pretty cool. No need to make millions off of SWIG and GIL keynotes - this is priceless, as is your child's uh-oh face in that last photo.
 
Wyatt,

With the exception of the arch, all of the towers are formed simply by stacking blocks from the bottom up and adding blocks as you go. The very first picture actually shows the basic trick needed to build the diamond towers.

As far as getting blocks, make sure you get a good set--blocks that have been precisely cut and which don't have slick surfaces (you want something with some friction as you will need it to help hold everything together).

Have fun! (I can only imagine the cat's reaction when knocking something over :-).
 
I actually did go to the mall after work yesterday. That was a mistake with all the Black Friday madness, plus the toy store there was kind of a dump and didn't even have the blocks (and had no idea where I might find them).
 
Thank you for all of your python posts, they're all pretty interesting!

I loved the look on your kids' face. He sure has a big head too, I hope that translates into humongous intelligence in the future so he can, hopefully, get rid of the GIL once and for all. Please teach him python, the future of the human race depends on it!
 
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