Technology, Knowledge and Learning

, Volume 18, Issue 1–2, pp 95–101 | Cite as

Elliptical Wheels

  • Michael Eisenberg
Computational Diversions

As you’ve probably noticed, this special issue of Technology, Knowledge, and Learning is devoted to bicycle-related topics; and in keeping with that theme, this installment of the computational diversions column will focus on rolling wheels. Not just any sort of rolling wheels, however; instead of looking at plain ordinary circular wheels, we’ll expand our horizons to explore the wonderful world of elliptical wheels.

Actually, ‘wonderful” might not be the right word here; “dubious”, “ill-advised”, or maybe even “disastrous” could be more appropriate. There’s a very good reason that wheels are circular, and that reason was expertly articulated by the nonsense poet Gelett Burgess (1866–1951). Burgess is today best remembered for his little verse about the purple cow, 1 but many of his poems and drawings display a keen sense of geometric or physical absurdity [perhaps not too surprising since–according to his Wikipedia ( 2013) entry–he was a graduate of MIT]. The limerick that he wrote on...


Rightward Movement Rightmost Point Bottom Point Standard Ellipse 25th Point 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Burgess, G. (1901). The Burgess Nonsense Book. New York: Frederick A. Stokes. (Available for viewing on the Web via Scholar
  2. Wikipedia entry for Gelett Burgess: (Retrieved April 25, 2013).
  3. Wilder, M. P. (1907). The Wit and Humor of America (Vol. VII) New York: Funk and Wagnalls. Available on the Web via Project Gutenberg (

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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