# Simon building an 8-bit Computer from scratch. Parts 1 & 2.

Parts 1 and 2 in Simon’s new series showing him attempting to build an 8-bit computer from scratch, using the materials from Ben Eater’s Complete 8-bit breadboard computer kit bundle.

Simon is learning this from Ben Eater’s playlist about how to build an 8-bit computer.

# A Square Triangle?

Simon explains what Gaussian formula is to check a shape’s curvature and shows how to make a triangle with three 90° angles. Or is it a square, since it’s a shape with all sides equal and all angles at 90°? He also says a few words about the curvature of the Universe we live in.

Almost everything he shares in this video Simon has learned from Cliff Stoll on Numberphile:

# A Knot Theory Puzzle

Simon has shown us a curious puzzle: if you hang a poster on a string using two pins, what is the way to arrange the string so that the poster definitely falls once you remove any pin? The math behind the trick involves Knot Theory. Simon has learned the trick from this video by Jade, the creator of the science and phlosophy Up an Atom channel that Simon loves.

It’s relatively easy to solve the puzzle for one particular pin. The picture below shows the solution for removing the right pin:

But the puzzle asks us to think of a configuration that makes the poster fall once ANY pin is removed, doesn’t matter which! And that’s way more difficult. Simon said that we should simplify the problem by removing the poster altogether and replacing the pins with two small loops of string.

What Simon did next was show us the math behind the trick, trying to come up with such a combination of the three loops that would stay connected but, if you remove any of the three, the rest of the construction would fall apart. “Wait, that sound familiar! We’ve actually turned the problem into Borromean rings!”

# Topological trick in slow motion

Simon (and Neva as his assistant) experimenting with the topology of a paper strip, filming their (almost magical) tricks on a slow motion camera:

Inspired by Tadashi Tokieda’s geometry and topology tutorials on Numberphile.

# Looking back at the vacation

Although vacation is a vague notion in our family, where days are devoted to doing favourite things 365 days a year. For Simon, that means that his days are filled to the brim with science experiments, practicing math and devouring books and videos on quantum mechanics, also when he is on vacation (away from home). The past three weeks in Southern France and Spanish Sitges also involved a lot of swimming and enjoying the outdoors of course, but science remains Simon’s top priority. He also felt like he had grown unaccustomed to the beach overkill (while at home, we only went to the beach something like once a week max) and couldn’t bear the sand sticking to his wet feet for a while. By the time we settled at our Spanish Airbnb he gradually got acclimatised to this continuous sensory ordeal though and I was happy to see him relax at the seashore, especially on the last day of our stay. He had spent about two hours in the water (experimenting with vortices, swimming after a ball and just playing silly), and  didn’t even want to get the sand off his feet anymore. We just sat there on the beautiful retro beach in Sitges, hugging and watching the sea, in absolute tranquility. Simon had even forgotten that Daniel Shiffman’s live stream was due that evening!

Made a lot of “binary calculators” (above)

Helped little sis learn fractions

Introduced little sis to infinite fractions

Checked out his new lathe tools and tried sawing

Experimented a whole lot (with surface tension, forces, water and gases)

Yet another experiment

Followed tutorials by Physics Girl, Up and Atop, PBS Space Time, Veritasium, Reactions, PBS Infinite Series

Loved his new Larry Gonnick Calculus book and did quite a lot of… Calculus. It was quite funny when a restaurant owner noticed Simon differentiate at dinnertime and was very impressed. He trend out to be a former high school science teacher. Interesting how Simon’s giftedness is usually only openly appreciated by those who have some understanding of the subjects he elaborates upon. People with less understanding show less tolerance, like a guard at the French swimming pool who told us off and snatched Simon’s (clean) plastic plate away, not allowing Simon to carry out his beloved vortices experiment in the public pool (resulting in a huge meltdown and Simon being afraid the pool would close or change rules every day).

Launching propeller rockets on the beach

Simon’s first chemical equations. He first thought they worked like linear equations 🙂

More Physics Girl inspired experiments

Favourite one: burning matches in a glass results in all the water in a shallow plate getting sucked into the glass (water level rising). Has a physical and a chemical explanation!

Favourite evening activity

Loving the waves

# Hexaflexing

Simon has been into making various hexaflexagons, inspired by the Vihart channel. It was tough at first, but later the same day he didn’t need any help anymore and flexed away:

# Some basic molecules

Above: “Mom, look, this is what we breathe in and this is what we breathe out!”

Looking for a better organic chemistry set now, with plenty of carbon and hydrogen pieces. Any tips?

# Back in Shape

Simon prepared 100 2D shapes to make over 100 solids yesterday. He started with the easy one that he had built hundreds of times before, when he was much younger (like the Platonic Solids and some of the Archimedean Solids and anti-prisms), but then went on to less familiar categories, like elongated and gyroelongated cupolae and dipyramids! Never heard of a Gyrobifastigium? Take a look below!

Dodecahedron

Icosahedron

Cuboctahedron

Small Rhombicuboctahedron (by expanding a cube)

Icosidodecahedron

Simon didn’t build a snub cube (“is a real challenge and has two different versions that are mirror images of each other”). Nor did he make a truncated dodecahedron (as he has no decagons), nor a truncated icosahedron (doesn’t have 20 hexagons). “If you slice the corners off of an icosahedron, you get a truncated icosahedron also known as a… football!” The 62-sided rhombicosidodecahedron he had already made many times before, we’ll post an old photo later.

And then came the antiprisms:

A square antiprism – two squares connected with a band of equilateral triangles

A pentagonal antiprism

And the elongated shapes:

Pentagonal cupola (half a cantellated dodecahedron); there is no hexagonal cupola

Pentagonal rotunda (half of an icosidodecahedron)

Gyroelongated triangular pyramid

Gyroelongated square pyramid

“If you gyroelongate a pentagonal pyramid, it looks like an icosahedron, but isn’t quite that”:

Gyroelongated pentagonal pyramid

Elongated square dipyramid

Elongated triangular cupola

Gyroelongated triangular cupola

Gyrobifastigium (there it is, you found it!)

Square orthobicupola

Pentagonal orthobicupola (above) and its twisted variant – pentagonal gyrobicupola (below), looking like a UFO

# Rubik’s Cube Moves

Simon is getting faster and faster with the cube. Order a speed cube for his upcoming birthday? So much for “poor fine motor skills”.

# 2 x 2 x 2 also done!

Completely on his own, without using any YouTube tutorials. (Says he applied parts of the same algorithm as he had learned for the 3 x 3 x 3 one).