Research NewsMathematics

How to Play Platonic Billiards

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Science  21 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5303, pp. 1070
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5303.1070

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SAN DIEGO—Minnesota Fats has some mathematical competition. With a little help from a computer, a mathematician has demonstrated some amazing three-dimensional shots for a cue ball bouncing around inside three equal-sided, or Platonic, solids—the eight-sided octahedron, the 12-sided dodecahedron, and the 20-sided icosahedron. Each shot hits each side of the pertinent solid and returns to its exact starting point and direction of travel.