Category Archives: Sculpture

Military heroes, Genghis and confederate


This 13 story statue of Genghis Kahn looks over the plains of Mongolia.

All military statues are offensive, as best I can tell. Among the most offensive, is the 131 foot tall monument to Genghis Kahn in central Mongolia. Genghis Kahn is known for near-perfect military success, and for near-total disregard for non-Mongols; he treated them as cattle, to be herded, slaughtered, raped or pillaged. I imagine this statue is offensive to Chinese, Russians, Koreans, Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Poles, and Germans — people he slaughtered by the millions. For some Mongols too, I imagine this statue is offensive as a sad reminder that Mongolia no longer rules the eastern world. But the monument is not for the maudlin, nor is it intended to offend. Like other military statues, the Genghis monument is a rally point for soldiers, old and new. It’s a way to inspire Mongols to be great leaders of men, military and not. Such will see, in Genghis, a man who made tough choices, and carried through to great achievements. That he killed and oppressed others will be justified by noting he did it to keep his Mongols from being killed or oppressed. The grand size is chosen to encourage Mongols to think big.

Genghis appears in fictional form as the villain, Shan Yu, in Mulan. There, his motivation is he doesn’t like the wall. Mulan and the Chinese army stop his Mongol attack by burying them at a snow-covered mountain pass. Historically, a Chinese army did meet Genghis and his army at a mountain pass, but the Mongols were not defeated. Instead they bypassed the Chinese and captured their supplies. Genghis then offered the starving Chinese a choice: join or die. Those that joined had to fight those who did not. A few months later, Peking fell, and in a few years, the rest of Asia. Few of the turncoats survived. Given the same choice, Genghis’s men never turned on him.

General Lee planted a maple tree on this spot in Fort Hamilton, New York. in 2017 the  plaque is removed as it's considered offensive.

General Lee planted a maple tree on this spot in Fort Hamilton, New York. in 2017 the plaque is removed as offensive.

Genghis’s most famous saying is that one arrow is easily broken, but a bundle will overcome any adversary. Similar to this, he is supposed to have said that, if you treat your soldiers as sons, they will follow you even into death. Such words are nonsense to non-soldiers and professional complainers: those who do not imagine themselves going to war. Those who go to war as generals know this is how to behave; those who go as soldiers hope for a leader who values them as sons, and not as cannon fodder.

In the US we’ve begun removing all monuments to the southern forces of the Civil War. This may be a mistake, but it seems irreversible. We’ve kept our monuments for Northern generals including William Sherman, known for his tactic of total destruction, and for Phillip Sheridan, equally known for total war, and for the saying: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” But we no longer tolerate Confederates. Among the reasons is that we claim to ease the pain of black people — a pain I feel looking at the Genghis Kahn monument. Another reason, we’re told, is that the statues are “dog-whistles” to racists and white supremacists — a particular danger now, evidenced in the election of Donald Trump. A danger, I think, that’s been largely trumped up as a way to keep politicians and newscasters politically relevant.

For these reasons, or politicians have removed every last confederate monument in Florida, the last being a large grave-stone in the Woodlawn cemetery. Virginia’s governor has similarly declared his intention to remove them all from his state. The city of Baltimore removed all four civil-war monuments in the middle of one busy night, August 18, 2017, and the University of Texas did similarly, working at night. New York City removed a plaque remembering Robert E. Lee for planting a tree at Ft. Hamilton, And, last week, an honorary window at the Washington cathedral where Lee had been a deacon.

Statues of Robert E. Lee are a particular target. There are quite a few in Virginia where his family was prominent — it was Richard H. Lee’s motion in the Continental Congress that carried as independence; his home now serves as Arlington Cemetery. While Lee opposed slavery and freed his slaves before the war, he fought for the Confederacy, so clearly he didn’t oppose slavery as totally as we would like. And Lee only freed his wife’s inherited slaves in 1862, fairly late, though Grant still had slaves at that time. Besides, in 1852, Lee caused an escaped slave to be whipped. I imagine he did the same to runaway soldiers. Historians used to praise Lee, but now call him a cruel racist. In hindsight, we imagine we would have done much better.

General Lee statue being removed from University of Texas.

General Lee statue being removed from the University of Texas.

As best I can tell, Virginians still remember Lee fondly, particularly soldiers, veterans, and those who imagine themselves leading men in difficult situations. When I try to put myself in Lee’s position, I find I can’t imagine myself doing better or achieving more. His life involved thousands of divisions and hundreds of inspiring actions. In the choice to fight for Virginia and not for the north, I note that Lee was given the same no-win choice as Genghis’s trapped Chinese: join the Union army and kill your brothers, or be killed by that army. The exchange appears in this movie. I admire Lee’s courage to stand by his brothers; it seems the more honorable of two bad choices. Early in his life, Lee committed himself to only honorable behavior  — according to his conception. This is all I expect from myself, and the most I hope for from any other person.

Another thing is Lee’s surrender. I find it a model of how to end a war so that lasting peace is achieved. It’s remembered in Johnny Cash’s song, “God Bless Robert E. Lee.”  Another song, “The night they drove old Dixie down” calls Lee “the very best.” I would be hard pressed to find a better US general: one who won more or was better loved.

Japanese resettlement.

Japanese resettlement in WWII. Our history is full of painful decisions by people we admire. Let’s try to not repeat our mistakes or pretend we don’t make them.

A killer complaint lodged against Lee, and against all the confederates, is that they were traitors. If so, George Washington and Ben Franklin were traitors too. In England, Benedict Arnold is honored as a patriot with a statue on Trafalgar square, but we do not honor him, rightly I think. He turned on his friends and brothers. I think it’s politics that’s motivated the current spate of removal. Most of the confederate statues stand (stood) in Democrat-leaning cities of five Republican-leaning states: Virginia, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi. The white, non-college country-folk of these states are being pitted against the darker, college-educated city folk in a fight for their hearts and pocket books.

As for my guess at interpretation of the statues themselves. I’m inclined to suggest that the statues and their inscriptions do not appear racists to me, so much as soldierly. The statues were largely erected between the Spanish-American war and WWII with soldierly (to my eyes) comments. Baltimore monument to Jackson and Lee, reads on one side: “STRAIGHT AS THE NEEDLE TO THE POLE JACKSON ADVANCED TO THE EXECUTION/ OF MY PURPOSE” and on the other side: “SO GREAT IS MY CONFIDENCE IN GENERAL LEE THAT I AM WILLING TO FOLLOW HIM BLINDFOLDED.” Another Baltimore inscription: “THEY FOUGHT AS GENTLEMEN.” To me this latter is a swipe at Sherman and Sheridan, who did not. Removing these statues is a swipe at the honor of southern soldiers. The statues now read “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” a slogan I read as anti-police, anti-Trump, and anti-white.

The remnant of Baltimore's Lee- Jackson statue, showing the old inscription and the new.

The remnant of Baltimore’s Lee – Jackson statue with the old inscription and the new..To me, the old inscription is military, mostly, and not as racist as the new.

The pain of black America is real, but the thing that’s missed is that it is similar to the pain of rural white America. Both have been left behind. I’ve noted that urban black Americans and rural whites have virtually no savings, It could be the two poor cultures don’t realize they have much in common. Or it could be (I think) some folks purposefully fermenting dissension. What is needed, at least is better financial sense, and a recognition that race isn’t racism, but to listen to CNN or read the New York Times, such understandings seem unlikely. The Trump election shocked everyone, I think, those who voted for him and those who didn’t — and perhaps even Trump himself. Hillary, it seems had already bought a house in DC to house her staff. The surprise is not a reason to turn on one’s fellow. I can hope that Trump will prove to be a great president. For now, he is the president, and we are faced by nuclear enemies. It hardly helps to see half of our electorate call the other half racists and deplorables. As with a bundle of arrows, we have strength in union, weakness in disunion. May we all be blessed for a good, sweet year of peace and brotherly love

Robert E. Buxbaum. September 24, 2017. Perhaps my fondness for Lee is because I’m named after him. Here’s my theory for why Mongol arrows flew further.

Dada, or it’s hard to look cool sucking on a carrot.

When it’s done right, Dada art is cool. It’s not confusing or preachy; it’s not out there, or sloppy; just cool. And today I found the most wonderful Dada piece: “Attention”, by Gabriel -Belladonna, shown below from “deviant art” (sorry about the water-mark).

At first glance it’s an advertisement against smoking, drinking, and eating sweets. The smoker has blackened lungs, the drinker has an enlarged liver, and the eater of sweets a diseased stomach. But something here isn’t right; the sinners are happy and young. These things are clearly bad for you but they’re enjoyable too and “cool” — Smoking is a lot cooler than sucking on a carrot.

Dada at it's best: Attention by Mio Belladonna. The sinners are happy.

Dada at it’s best: “Attention” by Dadaist Gabriel (Mio) Belladonna, 2012; image from deviant art. If I were to choose the title it would be “But it’s hard to look cool sucking on a carrot.”

At its best, Dada turns advertising and art on its head; it uses the imagery of advertising to show the shallowness of that, clearly slanted medium, or uses art-museum settings to show the narrow definition of what we’ve come to call “art”. In the above you see the balance of life- reality and the mind control of advertising.

Marcel Duchamp's fountain and "Manikken Pis" Similar idea, Manikken is better executed, IMHO.

Marcel Duchamp’s fountain and “Manikken Pis.”

Any mention of dada should also, I suppose, mention Duchamp’s fountain (at right, signed fancifully by R. Mutt). In 2004, fountain was voted “the most influential artwork of the 20th century” by a panel of artists and art historians. The basic idea was to show the slight difference between art and not-art (to be something, there has to be a non-something, as in this joke). Beyond this, the idea would be that same as for the Manikken Pis sculpture in Brussels. Duchamp’s was done with a lot less work — just by signing a “found object.” He submitted the work for exhibition in 1917, but it was rejected as not being art — proving, I guess, the point. Fountain is related to man: his life, needs, and vain ambitions; it’s sort-of beautiful, so why ain’t it art? (It has something to do with skill, I’d say.)

Duchamp designed two major surrealist exhibitions — a similar approach, but surrealism typically employs more skill and humor than Dada, with less shock. Below is another famous work of dada, Oppenheim’s fur-lined tea-cup (Breakfast in fur — see it at the Modern Museum in NYC) compared to a wonderful (and in my mind similar) surreal work, “Ruby lips” by Dali. Oppenheim made the tea-cup and spoon disgusting by making it out of a richer material, fur. That’s really cool, and sort-of shocking, even today.

Duchap's tea cup (left), and Dali's ruby lips (right). Similar ideas treated as Dada or Surreal.

Meret Oppenheim’s fur tea-cup (Breakfast in fur) and Dali’s ruby lips; the same idea (I think); dada vs surreal.

Dali’s “ruby libs” brooch took more skill than gluing fur to a cup and spoon; that adds to the humor, I’d say, but took from the shock. It’s made from real rubies and pearls: hard materials for something that should be soft; it’s sort of disgusting this way, and the message is more or less the same as Oppenheim’s, I’d say, but the message gets a little lost in the literal joke (pearly teeth, ruby lips…). I could imagine someone wearing Dali’s brooch, but no one would use the fur-lined cup. 

There is a lot of bad dada, too unfortunately, and it tends to be awful: incomprehensible, trite, or advertising. An unfortunate tendency is to collect some found pieces of garbage, and set it out in an attempt to scandalize the art world, or put down “the man” for his closed mindset. But that’s fountain, and it’s been done. A key way to tell if it’s good dada — is it cool; is it something that makes you say “Wow.” Christo’s surrounded islands certainly have the wow-cool factor, IMHO. 

Christo's wrapped Islands. Islands near Miami Beach wrapped in pink (fuscha) plastic.

Christo’s surrounded Islands: Islands near Miami Beach wrapped in pink (fuchsia) plastic.

A nice thing about Christo is that he takes it down 2 weeks or so after he makes the sculptures. Thus, the wow factor of his work never has a chance to go stale. Sorry to say, most dada stays around. Duchamp’s “fountain” sits in a museum and has grown stale, at least to me and Duchamp. What was scandalous and shocking in 1917 is passé and boring in 2014. The decline in shock is somewhat less for “breakfast in fur,” I think because the work is better crafted, a benefit I see in “Attention” too; skill matters.

Paris Street art. I don't know the artist, but it's cool.

Paris Street art; it’s just cool.

At the height of his success, Duchamp left art for 30 years and played chess. He became a chess grand master (life is as strange as art) and played for France in international tournaments. He later came back to art and did one, last, final piece, a very fine one, seen only through a peephole. Here’s some further thoughts on good vs bad modern art, and on surrealism, and on the aesthetic of strength in engineering: what materials to use; how strong should it be, and on architecture humor

Robert E. Buxbaum. April 4-7, 2014. Here is a link to my attempt at good Dada: Kilroy with eyes that follow you, and at right some Paris street art that I consider good dada too. As far as what the word “dada” means, I translate it as “cool,” “wow,” “gnarly,” or “go go.” It’s dada, man, y’ dig?

Be Art

You are your own sculpture; Be art.

Here I am wearing a sculpture I made, called Gilroy. The Idea is based on the drawings of Kilroy made during WW2, but to make things spookier the eyes follow you as shown in this video. I suspect that the original drawings were made to discredit the Nazi’s by undermining the sense that they brought order and were the inevitable power in the area.

Feb. 2013 – March, 2015

Nerves are tensegrity structures and grow when pulled

No one quite knows how nerve cells learn stuff. It is incorrectly thought that you can not get new nerves in the brain, nor that you can get brain cells to grow out further, but people have made new nerve cells, and when I was a professor at Michigan State, a Physiology colleague and I got brain and sensory nerves to grow out axons by pulling on them without the use of drugs.

I had just moved to Michigan State as a fresh PhD (Princeton) as an assistant professor of chemical engineering. Steve Heidemann was a few years ahead of me, a Physiology professor PhD from Princeton. We were both new Yorkers. He had been studying nerve structure, and wondered about how the growth cone makes nerves grow out axons (the axon is the long, stringy part of the nerve). A thought was that nerves were structured as Snelson-Fuller tensegrity structures, but it was not obvious how that would relate to growth or anything else. A Snelson-Fuller structure is shown below the structure stands erect not by compression, as in a pyramid or igloo, but rather because tension in the wires helps lift the metal pipes, and puts them in compression. The nerve cell, shown further below is similar with actin-protein as the outer, tensed skin, and a microtubule-protein core as the compress pipes. 

A Snelson-Fuller tensegrity sculpture in the graduate college courtyard at Princeton, where Steve and I got our PhDs

A Snelson-Fuller tensegrity sculpture in the graduate college courtyard at Princeton, an inspiration for our work.

Biothermodynamics was pretty basic 30 years ago (It still is today), and it was incorrectly thought that objects were more stable when put in compression. It didn’t take too much thermodynamics on my part to show otherwise, and so I started a part-time career in cell physiology. Consider first how mechanical force should affect the Gibbs free energy, G, of assembled microtubules. For any process at constant temperature and pressure, ∆G = work. If force is applied we expect some elastic work will be put into the assembled Mts in an amount  ∫f dz, where f is the force at every compression, and ∫dz is the integral of the distance traveled. Assuming a small force, or a constant spring, f = kz with k as the spring constant. Integrating the above, ∆G = ∫kz dz = kz2; ∆G is always positive whether z is positive or negative, that is the microtubule is most stable with no force, and is made less stable by any force, tension or compression. 

A cell showing what appears to be tensegrity. The microtubules in green surrounded by actin in red. If the actin is under tension the microtubules are in compression. From here.

A cell showing what appears to be tensegrity. The microtubules (green) surrounded by actin (red). In nerves Heidemann and I showed actin is in tension the microtubules in compression.

Assuming that microtubules in the nerve- axon are generally in compression as in the Snelson-Fuller structure, then pulling on the axon could potentially reduce the compression. Normally, this is done by a growth cone, we posited, but we could also do it by pulling. In either case, a decrease in the compression of the assembled microtubules should favor microtubule assembly.

To calculate the rates, I used absolute rate theory, something I’d learned from Dr. Mortimer Kostin, a most-excellent thermodynamics professor. I assumed that the free energy of the monomer was unaffected by force, and that the microtubules were in pseudo- equilibrium with the monomer. Growth rates were predicted to be proportional to the decrease in G, and the prediction matched experimental data. 

Our few efforts to cure nerve disease by pulling did not produce immediate results; it turns out to by hard to pull on nerves in the body. Still, we gained some publicity, and a variety of people seem to have found scientific and/or philosophical inspiration in this sort of tensegrity model for nerve growth. I particularly like this review article by Don Ingber in Scientific American. A little more out there is this view of consciousness life and the fate of the universe (where I got the cell picture). In general, tensegrity structures are more tough and flexible than normal construction. A tensegrity structure will bend easily, but rarely break. It seems likely that your body is held together this way, and because of this you can carry heavy things, and still move with flexibility. It also seems likely that bones are structured this way; as with nerves; they are reasonably flexible, and can be made to grow by pulling.

Now that I think about it, we should have done more theoretical or experimental work in this direction. I imagine that  pulling on the nerve also affects the stability of the actin network by affecting the chain configuration entropy. This might slow actin assembly, or perhaps not. It might have been worthwhile to look at new ways to pull, or at bone growth. In our in-vivo work we used an external magnetic field to pull. We might have looked at NASA funding too, since it’s been observed that astronauts grow in outer space by a solid inch or two, and their bodies deteriorate. Presumably, the lack of gravity causes the calcite in the bones to grow, making a person less of a tensegrity structure. The muscle must grow too, just to keep up, but I don’t have a theory for muscle.

Robert Buxbaum, February 2, 2014. Vaguely related to this, I’ve written about architecture, art, and mechanical design.

Surrealists art joke

How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb.


The fish.


Surrealism aims to show the reality that exceeds realism; the dream-like absurd that is beyond the rational, common-sensical and practical. Beyond control engineering.

And you know “How many engineers would it take to screw in a lightbulb?” —- “Minimally two, and it would have to be a very large lightbulb.”

Even if the insights of surrealism are common-place, for example, that the eye is a false mirror of the world, I like is that they become real (if the surrealist is talented.)

False Mirror by Magritte; The idea, I suppose is that the eye is a false mirror of the world, seeing what's already within it.

False Mirror by Magritte; the idea, I suppose is that we see what’s already within us.

“The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.” What I particularly like is the falseness of the mirror is shown as both false and true. The world is rarely this or that. Another insight / joke.

We all have masks, especially with those we love.

We all have masks, especially with those we love.

I imagine most I could make second-rate surrealistic works. The way to know your work is second rate it’s beautiful and insightful, but not funny.

Creation of Man-the-militant in the style of Michelangelo

Creation of Man-the-militant. Kuksi. It’s well done, and interesting (a retake on Michelangelo), but it’s not funny. See my cartoon in mechanical v civil engineers joke.

And then there is bad modern art. You could argue that this isn’t surreal, but some sort of other modern art, or post modern art. But that’s all false: it’s just bad art.

Bad modern art: little skill, little meaning, no humor. If you have to ask: "is it art?" It usually isn't.

Bad modern art: little skill, little meaning, no humor. If you have to ask: “is it art?” It usually isn’t.

If you buy something like this, and put it in your corporate headquarters lobby, the joke’s on you, and the artist is laughing his or her way to the bank.  Here is a link to why surrealism should be funny, And why architecture should not be (someone’s got to live in that joke).

R. E. Buxbaum, August 5, 2013

What’s Holding Gilroy on the Roof

We recently put a sculpture on our roof: Gilroy, or “Mr Hydrogen.” It’s a larger version of a creepy face sculpture I’d made some moths ago. Like it, and my saber-toothed tiger, the eyes follow you. A worry about this version: is there enough keeping it from blowing down on the cars? Anyone who puts up a large structure must address this worry, but I’m a professional engineer with a PhD from Princeton, so my answer is a bit different from most.

Gilroy (Mr Hydrogen) sculpture on roof of REB Research & Consulting. The eyes follow you.

Gilroy (Mr Hydrogen) sculpture on roof of REB Research & Consulting. The eyes follow you. Aim is that it should withstand 50 mph winds.

The main force on most any structure is the wind (the pyramids are classic exceptions). Wind force is generally proportional to the exposed area and to the wind-speed squared: something called form-drag or quadratic drag. Since force is related to wind-speed, I start with some good statistics for wind speed, shown in the figure below for Detroit where we are.

The highest Detroit wind speeds are typically only 16 mph, but every few years the winds are seen to reach 23 mph. These are low relative to many locations: Detroit has does not get hurricanes and rarely gets tornadoes. Despite this, I’ve decided to brace the sculpture to withstand winds of 50 mph, or 22.3 m/s. On the unlikely chance there is a tornado, I figure there would be so much other flotsam that I would not have to answer about losing my head. (For why Detroit does not get hurricanes or tornadoes, see here. If you want to know why tornadoes lift things, see here).

The maximum area Gilroy presents is 1.5 m2. The wind force is calculated by multiplying this area by the kinetic energy loss per second 1/2ρv2, times a form factor.  F= (Area)*ƒ* 1/2ρv2, where ρ is the density of air, 1.29Kg/m3, and v is velocity, 22.3 m/s. The form factor, ƒ, is about 1.25 for this shape: ƒ is found to be 1.15 for a flat plane, and 1.1 to 1.3 a rough sphere or ski-jumper. F = 1.5*1.25* (1/2 *1.29*22.32) = 603 Nt = 134 lb.; pressure is this divided by area. Since the weight is only about 40 lbs, I find I have to tie down the sculpture. I’ve done that with a 150 lb rope, tying it to a steel vent pipe.

Wind speed for Detroit month by month. Used to calculate the force. From

Wind speed for Detroit month by month. Used to calculate the force. From

It is possible that there’s a viscous lift force too, but it is likely to be small given the blunt shape and the flow Reynolds number: 3190. There is also the worry that Gilroy might fall apart from vibration. Gilroy is made of 3/4″ plywood, treated for outdoor use and then painted, but the plywood is held together with 25 steel screws 4″ long x 1/4″ OD. Screws like this will easily hold 134 lbs of steady wind force, but a vibrating wind will cause fatigue in the metal (bend a wire often enough and it falls apart). I figure I can leave Gilroy up for a year or so without worry, but will then go up to replace the screws and check if I have to bring him/ it down.

In the meantime, I’ll want to add a sign under the sculpture: “REB Research, home of Mr Hydrogen” I want to keep things surreal, but want to be safe and make sales.

by Robert E. Buxbaum, June 21, 2013

Tiger Sculpture at REB Research

Here’s the latest REB Research sculpture: a saber-toothed tiger:

Saber-toothed Tiger sculpture at REB Research; the face follows you (sort of). Another sculpture, a bit of our 3 foot geodesic is shown in the foreground.

Saber-toothed Tiger sculpture at REB Research; the face follows you. A bit of our 3 foot geodesic dome is shown in the foreground.

It’s face follows you (somewhat); It was inspired by my recent visit to Princeton Univ — they had lots of tiger statues, but none that looked eerie enough as you walked by. Click here for: YouTube movie.

Normally, by the way, REB Research makes hydrogen generators and other hydrogen stuff. May 1, 2013

Some people have noticed that I’m wearing a rather dapper suit during the recent visit of the press to my lab. It’s important to dress sharp, I think, and that varies from situation to situation. Fashion is an obligation, not a privilege; you’ve got to be willing to suffer for it, for the greater good of all.

Do you think Lady Gaga finds her stuff comfortable?

Do you think Lady Gaga finds her stuff comfortable? She does it for the greater good. 

R.E. Buxbaum. You are your own sculpture; Be art.


Helium leak detector repaired and refurbished in Frankenmuth

To those who know Frankenmuth, MI, it is generally as “Little Bavaria,” the German-themed vacation town of quaint houses and shops; of cheese, wurst, beer, Christmas ornaments, and Oom Pa Pa bands. I know it in a slightly different way as the only town to get your helium leak detector repaired. There are at least three shops in Frankenmuth that repair helium leak detectors (or make new specialty versions), and this is the source of the reference leaks that most qualified shops use. So I was here yesterday and today, both for the World-class snow sculpture contest, and to get my helium leak detector looked at. It was acting funny; it turns out there was a leak in the leak detector plus a bad potentiometer on a switchover circuit. The leak is already fixed, and I should have it back in my shop next week (Wednesday).

Snow-sculpting in Frankenmuth 2013; I was there to have my helium leak detector fixed.

Snow-sculpting in Frankenmuth 2013; I was there to have my helium leak detector fixed.

veeco He-leak detector at REB Research.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood. It’s a classic question with a simple answer: Woodchuck is a close relative to the beaver: it looks roughly the same, but is 1/10 the size. A reasonable assumption, then is that a wood chuck would chuck about 1/10 as much wood as a beaver does. You might think this isn’t very much wood, and one researcher claims it would have to be less than 1/2 lb, but I disagree. A beaver is a prodigious wood chucker; able to build a dam like the one shown in a single night. They carry the wood in their teeth. From the size of the dam and the speed of building you should be able to estimate how much wood a beaver can carry up there per day (beavers only work at night, and I’ll call the tooth carry process chucking, since that’s what we would call it if a person did it by hand). To figure out how much wood a wood chuck would chuck, divide this rate by 10. I’d estimate the beaver to move about 1000 lb/ night, I’d guess a woodchuck could move 100 lbs if it chose to.

Beaver Dam

A beaver dam. From the size of this dam, and the rate of construction (one night) you can figure out how much wood a beaver could chuck, and from that how much a woodchuck could.

Woodchucks don’t chuck wood, of course, unlike beavers they live in burrows in the ground, and don’t build wood dams or lodges. For comparison, a woodchuck can chuck up to 700 lb/ day of dirt, but that chucking is done with its feet, and moving things by tooth is slower. Well, now you know.