News of the WeekMathematics

Proving the Perfection of the Honeycomb

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Science  27 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5432, pp. 1338-1339
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5432.1338

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Scientists have long assumed that a hexagonal lattice allows bees to store the most honey while using the least beeswax to separate them, but no one could prove it. Then last month, at the Turán Workshop in Mathematics, Convex and Discrete Geometry in Budapest, a mathematician presented his proof that a hexagonal honeycomb has walls with the shortest total length, per unit area, of any design that divides a plane into equal-sized cells.