|Iners sempiternus was designed
for the Royal Society of Edinburgh/Scottish Executive design competition
for a trophy design for the 2020
Science: Education Conference.The design behind iners sempiternus
(sempiternal inertia, or perpetual inertia) is to create a trophy
that is not the usual dust-collecting memento that sits on a shelf,
but an intriguing object that represents modern science and technology.
In investigating this goal I wanted to produce an object that was
only made possible by means of scientific development.
sempiternus is a conical object that defies canonic logic by
standing on its pointed end. This is obtained by means of an internal
The self contained and sealed unit will have an independent autonomy
of about an hour in which it will keep a constant longitudinal axis,
after which it will need to be placed back on its power supply plate.
Its battery will receive its charge without the need for electrical
contact through induction charging, in the same manner that a waterproof
electric toothbrush receives its charge. Induction charging is a method
used to transfer current from one circuit to another without physical
contact. The way this is obtained is by splitting the transformer,
that would otherwise be necessary to reduce mains voltage to that
necessary to charge the battery, between the charging and charged
circuits. The high frequency radiation produced by the mains powered
coil is inductively coupled by a receiving coil over a given distance
that is smaller than wavelength of the high frequency signal, without
the necessity of electrical wires. Hence, the portable part of iners
sempiternus contains a receiving coil, connected to a circuit
which charges the battery and drives the gyroscope.
I believe that iners sempiternus is an object that would
capture people’s fascination both during the presentation of
an award, and later in life. It is presented here as a non functional
Initial images of the iners sempiternus portrayed it as a highly mecchanical
yet static device. A machined alluminium cone with a lid that resembles
the back of a screw down watch. The base/psu is a simple shape that would
be connected to the mains.
An exploded view shows how I had invivisoned it working, though after some
experimentation I can state that a simple gyroscope run by a motor is not
sufficient to obtain the desired effect.
My prototype, made out of machined plastics with a lead gyro, went through
a lot of changes, and served to prove that there were many phisical aspects
of the design that I was not able to deal with alone. Gyroscopic precession
is the biggest problem with the design.