Health, Sports & Psychology

Reinventing the square wheel: Join the debate

Updated Wednesday 15th September 2010

Square wheels - odd looking indeed - but what would be the practical application for everyday life? See what Dr Ian Johnston thinks, and if you've got an idea, why not post a comment to get the debate started?

Jem glossed over a bit of the curve design. The chain method gave him "a" curve of the right height and period, but it also very elegantly gave him "the" curve - the right shape - as well. A chain hangs in a catenary curve (y = cosh x) and that's just the shape needed for a square wheel. I haven't seen a really elegant proof of that yet - can anyone come up with something short and convincing?

The skateboard makes a good small scale demonstration, and we'll see next week how the square-wheeled motorbike turned out (I've seen Jem since and he still has all his teeth), but is there any scope for using this in real life? Maybe for traffic control in towns? A suitably shaped roller could put the ridges in the road and then only buses would be allowed tyres of the right shape. Rumble strips on a grand scale!

Any other ideas? Could mean fitting the road to the wheel, or the wheel to the road - are there any regular and bumpy shaped things that need moving around? Square wheels look so daft that I really hope there's a use for them!

We'd like to hear what you think - join the online debate by posting your comments below.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Sky notes: October Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: OU image library article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Sky notes: October

A guide to the what's happening in the night sky in October.

Article
The insecurity of security: Perspectives Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: By iz4aks via flickr under Creative Commons 2.0 audio icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

The insecurity of security: Perspectives

The stated purpose of the checkpoints and walls that control movement of Palestinians between Israel and the West Bank is to prevent terrorists from entering Israeli cities. This podcast explores their affect on the daily lives of people, and the dilemma facing the women of Machsom Watch, as their actions, which make the process more humane, contradict their political opposition to its existence.

Audio
15 mins
Olympic Shorts: Matthew Pinsent on coaching video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Video
5 mins
Mike Norris on the right time to launch Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Mike Norris on the right time to launch

"In the IT industry, it's close behind fashion"

Video
5 mins
The award-winners that inspire action on climate change Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Roman Milert | Dreamstime.com video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

The award-winners that inspire action on climate change

Simon Brammer discusses his work with the Ashden Awards, including working with winners to develop their business, inform government policy, and encourage others to learn from their success

Video
5 mins
Deepwater Horizon and other crises Creative commons image Icon kk+ under CC-BY-NC-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Deepwater Horizon and other crises

 The Deepwater Horizon blow-out sent millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. How do we cope with massive oil spills; how do you manage when your business finds itself at the heart of a major crisis - and how does forensic engineering get to the truth after a disaster?

Article
John Zarnecki on motivation video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

John Zarnecki on motivation

John Zarnecki devoted almost 20 years to landing the Huygens probe on Titan. Here, he discusses his motivation.

Video
5 mins
Underwater challenge Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Underwater challenge

In the underwater episode of Science Shack, Adam challenged the team to build him a self-contained underwater environment. They succeeded, but what did they have to take into account?

Article
Personal Best: Motivation Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Personal Best: Motivation

OU sports academic Caroline Heaney and athletes discuss the sources of motivation and how to get motivated to achieve goals.

Video