C.O.S.I. in Columbus, Ohio, 1986

An eight worm
binary riddle:

A row of eight columns thrum as they stand inflated to their full sixty foot height.

Suddenly the hum of the blowers stops and the plastic tubes come spiraling down, sliding and nudging themselves in sensuous, rolling shapes. As they slowly approach total collapse in limp shapes on the floor, something stirs at the end of the row.

The last column has come to life. It twists and jumps as it inflates and climbs back up in a solitary effort to stand at full extension for only a moment, before it falls again. But as it does, the second pile stirs and rises majestically to full height for a moment before it is joined by the end tube which has once again become active.

Nearby, a printed circuit board asks" How many flies does the worm dance equal?"

 The tubes are, in fact, an eight-bit binary counter. The least significant tube, the active one on the end, equals "one" when inflated.The tube at the other end, the most significant one, equals one hundred and twenty eight when inflated. This "byte" of worms can express any number up to two hundred and fifty five (two to the seventh power minus one.) Binary numbers are at the root of digital computers.

The inflations and deflations of the tubes are controlled by this large (22 by 17 inch) circuit board. This cream colored circuit board (detail shown left) with dark green conductors also functions as a display panel. Its imagery is fancifully drawn, collaged and rubber-stamped to present the principle of binary counting. The display asks the visitor to determine the decimal equivalent of what the tube express in binary and then to press a button which displays the correct answer.

Note: This site has been inspected by the
National Association for the Advocation of the Binary
who has declared "...there is no binary abuse in these worm sculptures."


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