By Natalie Wolchover
Posted 12.15.2010 at 1:31 pm 3 Comments
Almost nothing looks more orderly than chess pieces before a match starts. The first move, however, begins a spiral into chaos. After both players move, 400 possible board setups exist. After the second pair of turns, there are 197,742 possible games, and after three moves, 121 million. At every turn, players chart a progressively more distinctive path, and each game evolves into one that has probably never been played before.
A veteran designer of Lego robots (he built one that plays Connect Four), Indiana programmer Steve Hassenplug was looking for something still grander. When he watched the first Harry Potter movie with his kids—the one with the magic chessboard and eight-foot-high knights—he knew he had found it. The massive “Monsterchess” set he created from more than 100,000 Lego pieces, however, required plenty of wizardry of its own.
Ever since we taught them how to play, the machines have been trying to beat us at chess -- and succeeding. But where it took a closet-sized computer running a complicated computer program to beat Garry Kasparov and claim chess dominance for the machines, child's toys are now aligning to make you wish you hadn't ever moved your queen's bishop. "Monster Chess" was built from 100,000 Lego pieces and plays an autonomous game of chess on a 156-square-foot board, with each massive robotic piece gliding around the board autonomously.
The world's tiniest chess board and a pea-sized barber shop are the winners of a microelectromechanical systems design contest at Sandia National Laboratories. The microbarbershop can cut a single hair, and the chess board -- about the diameter of four human hairs -- comes with a full set of minuscule chess pieces.
By Robert Zubrin
Posted 12.17.2001 at 5:58 pm 0 Comments
Martian Chess is played on an ordinary chessboard using a standard set of chess pieces, a standard deck of 52 playing cards, and a six-sided die. The pieces are set up in the usual fashion, and each player is dealt 13 cards. White goes first.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.