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How would you place a 13 ton stone hat on top of 30-foot-tall moai statue?

UO Physics professor Ben McMorran helps in collaboration with former UO student Sean Hixon’s honors thesis on Easter Island moai.

“We were talking about inclined planes and rolling motion, and Sean mentioned his honors thesis work on the question of how the inhabitants of Rapa Nui managed to place large, cylindrical stone hats on top of 30-foot-tall moai statues,” said McMorran. “What was a rather rote mechanics problem for introductory physics became a nice collaboration in which we may have solved the mystery.”

Polynesians likely set up ramps using a parbuckling technique. That’s


John Toner Recipient of Martin Gutzwiller Fellowship

UO physics professor John Toner is on a roll. He’s won a research fellowship that will take him to Germany in the 2019-20 academic year, and a paper he published two decades ago has landed in a journal’s 25th anniversary collection.

Toner will spend up to seven months in residence at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, as a result of his selection as the 2018 Martin Gutzwiller Fellow.

You can read the full ‘Around the O’ article here.