Evolution through wind and PVC: Theo Jansen at RISD

Theo Jansen demonstrates his Strandbeests' "water feelers," which respond to moisture by rapidly firing leg pistons.

Theo Jansen demonstrates his Strandbeests’ “water feelers,” which respond to moisture by rapidly firing leg pistons to move in the opposite direction.

Theo Jansen, a Dutch polymath engineer-artist extraordinaire and the father of kinetic, wind-powered “Strandbeests,” came to RISD Friday night to deliver a lecture to a packed auditorium Although not a household name, Jansen is somewhat of a rock star at RISD.

His talk was presented by RISD/Brown STEAM, a group dedicated to promoting cross-disciplinary work between STEM fields and the arts. They demonstrated a five-foot tall cardboard Strandbeest of their own. Collaborative partners included RISD Government Relations and the RISD Programming Board.

Jansen is known for merging physics, engineering, biology, and art in large PVC kinetic animals that walk down the beaches in Holland on their own accord. These beasts move their legs with pneumatic PVC cylinders powered by compressed captured air. They have a purely mechanical nervous system that is able to respond to its environment by changing direction once it detects water or shifty terrain, by anchoring itself into the ground when it senses a storm coming, or by sending smaller “scouts” in front to test the surroundings.

In the talk, Jansen ruminated on the evolution of his career, imagination, and the beasts themselves.

Here are some of the most resonant thoughts Jansen shared Friday night, after the jump.

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The Brown/RISD Beard Competition: A Recap

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No-shave November is in full swing, and it is a perfect time to celebrate all forms of facial hair. Last Saturday, Brown University Beard Appreciation Society (BUBAS) sponsored the inaugural Brown/RISD Beard and Mustache Competition. Nine hairy hopefuls competed in five categories: Mustache, Whiskerina (women with fake facial hair), Five O’Clock Shadow, Partial Beard, and Full Beard. The entrants were scored by three local facial hair aficionados. A beardless MC named Stew officiated the competition.

When called forward, the competitors walked across the front of the room, displaying their facial hair to the audience and judges. MC Stew would ask the competitors a few questions about facial hair, but spent most of the competition making fun of dreadlocks, Davy Jones, Thoreau’s Walden, and more.

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Audience participation was encouraged.

Though the event drew fewer participants than BUBAS had hoped for, the facial hair on display was impressive. Patrick (Brown) won the mustache award with his twisted handlebar. Patrick put up a good fight in the Partial Beard division as well, but lost to Eliot (Brown), who sported a thick goatee and two voluminous muttonchops. Catherine (RISD) was the only entrant in the Whiskerina division and won by default. But the judges commended her for the creative way in which she had pulled her hair into a silky mustache. The Five O’Clock Shadow field was also won by default.

A few RISD students and one shaggy Brown student vied for the prestigious title of Full Beard champion. Jake (RISD) displayed a clean and even beard that he attributed to “good genes.” Emory (RISD) wore a more free-form beard that covered his cheeks and chin in thick facial shrubbery. Noah (Brown) sported a curly look.

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Emory, the 2014 Brown/RISD Full Beard champion.

It was close, but Emory emerged the champion and walked out with a bottle of professional-grade beard oil.

Anyone looking to participate in next year’s Beard and Mustache Competition should start eating lots of keratin. For, as MC Stew pointed out, “beards are made of protein.”

Images via Ari Snider ’18. 


Academics at Brown, as explained by Beyoncé’s new music video

Last night, Beyoncé once again shocked the nation by dropping the music video to a brand-new single, “7/11.” The song is a total jam and the video is an instant classic, featuring Beyoncé dancing around a hotel with her crew and being generally flawless. In the spirit of this exciting and incredible new release, here is the average Brown student’s academic life as explained by the “7/11″ music video:

 

When you literally cannot study anymore.

 1. Rolling up to classes before you’ve had your coffee.

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2. Rolling up to classes after you’ve had your coffee.

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3. Participating in class when you did the reading.

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4. Participating in class when you didn’t do the reading.

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Dorm room cold remedies for brave souls

If you’ve been to any of your classes in the past month, you’ve heard the cough symphony that accompanies the infamous call cold season. As much as it sucks to have your class interrupted by a serial cougher, it probably sucks even more to be that cougher. We’ve all been there – actually, most of us are probably there right now.

You have likely already made a few trips to CVS to buy your cold mitigating staples, but have you considered trying something new? The internet offers a plethora of bizarre and non-traditional cold and sore throat remedies that you can try from the comfort of your own dorm room. Warning: some of these cures are weirder than others, and we cannot promise that any of these work, but does the internet ever lie? Send this to the the serial cougher in your life (or to the lady below…she needs help).

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Fear not, sad lady! The internet’s got you covered.

Try the “Wet Sock Treatment.”

This might possibly be the strangest cold and flu treatment out there. Apparently, if you sleep in cotton socks that have been soaked in ice water and then put a pair of wool socks on top of them, you can activate “the body’s defenses and reflexively increase circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat,” according to naturalhealthadvisory.com.  This remedy has also been referenced and endorsed by the healthy Dr. Katie Corazzo on the healthy lifestyle blog MindBodyGreen and by healthline.com.

Garlic

According to everydayroots.com, sucking on garlic can actually do a better job at getting rid of a sore throat than a cough drop. They advise that you slice one clove of garlic in half and put the two halves on either side of your mouth. One of our bloggers (read:me), recently tried this in a moment of desperation and it actually worked wonders. This is very easy to do, but beware that you might need to brush your teeth six times before leaving your room.

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: The Brown Wind Symphony Concert with Mark Steinbach

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Looking for a little on-campus cultural advancement? The Brown Wind Symphony is holding a free concert tonight from 8-10 p.m. in Sayles Hall. Conducted by Mr. Mathew McGarrel, they will perform works by Mozart, Percy Grainger, and Jaromir Weinberger, as well as a special performance by a percussion ensemble.  What makes this concert even better is that Brown’s resident organist, Mark Steinbach, will perform alongside the Wind Symphony. In case you didn’t know, Brown is home to our very own Hutchings-Votey pipe organ, which happens to be the world’s largest, with over 3,300 pipes.

The Wind Symphony concert is a great way to get your Friday night started, and it ends just in time for you to catch the better part of most pregames, in case that’s a concern of yours. You can also try to impress a date by pretending to know who the heck Jaromir Weinberger is (he was actually a badass Czech composer who wrote over 100 works such as operas, choral works, and symphonies). If you haven’t had a chance to check out a student performance or an organ concert, now is your opportunity. The tickets are free, and the doors open at 8:00 p.m.

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Why Au Bon Pain is the best place ever

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Imagine a paradise where the sun streams in on all sides, the greatest hits of the late 90′s plays softly in the background, and it always smell likes toast. Where could you possibly find such a magical place? The answer lies on the corner of Thayer Street and Fones Alley. Yes Brunonians, this paradise is Au Bon Pain.

I know what you’re thinking: Au Bon Pain? That grimy yellow awning across from Starbucks that’s pretending to be fancy and French? When I saw it, I was scared too. Then one fateful day, I decided to give it the good-old-fashioned college try. Here’s why ABP is the best place on college hill:

1. The Soundtrack

The first thing I love about ABP is the soundtrack. The greatest hits of the late 90′s/early 2000′s will leave you feeling mellow as can be. Sugar Ray, No Doubt, Sheryl Crow, Feist, the song Gotta Keep Your Head Up (on constant loop). None of this hipster esotericism: you will recognize every song. And ABP doesn’t play from a radio station; they have their own CD. It’s given to them by the company. CHRISTMAS WISH LIST!

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