Since that post on the IronMind triathlon, I have been scratching my head for a good manifestation of spatial intelligence. I suggested in that post that map-making may be a good test, but I think there may be a better one.

Mechanisms – the ability to visualize and design them – these constitute a very ‘pure’ form of spatial intelligence. In the last few days, I have been working a lot with Thomas, a mechanical engineer ‘of the old unaltered blood’, and I have been amazed by his spatial intelligence. Perhaps he has the finest spatial intelligence that I have seen so far.

Thomas doesn’t believe in CAD; indeed, he hardly even believes in computers. For him, pencil and paper are supreme while doing engineering, and he makes very complex sketches of intricate mechanisms in third-angle. To understand a concept or a design, Thomas doesn’t need a 3D model – in fact, he considers them an insult – and he can assemble a 3D model entirely in his head, parts separated, from a few projective sketches.

Now that I think about it, I used to be fairly good at engineering drawing. Certainly I used to enjoy it, though my neatness could do with a lot of improvement. I loved 2nd sem ED – we had a bunch of fantastic exercises, like finding the intersection of planes and cylinders with drawing, or finding the shortest distance between skew lines in 3D geometry.

I have also done a few 3D jigsaws when I was a kid – my mother bought a few for me – and I remember being endlessly fascinated with the soma cube when I was 14 or 15.

But back to IronMind, and I am wondering whether, perhaps, a kinetic sculpture would be a good challenge to do – make a sculpture which moves, almost origami like, but out of wood or metal. The fact that Dean Kamen has a bunch of these makes it even more desirable.

What do you think?


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