COOL IMAGES: Out of Shapes

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Science  01 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5437, pp. 7
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5437.7a

This flowery sphere is no random scrap of clip art but a blend of two precisely constructed “great retrosnub icosidodecahedra” For centuries, objects known as polyhedra—made by linking triangles, squares, and other polygons—have delighted mathematicians, who often make them by gluing together folded pieces of paper. But at Virtual Polyhedra, created by George Hart, a Long Island sculptor and mathematician, you can skip the hours of work and the risk of dented corners and instead use your mouse to rotate or zoom in on more than 1000 polyhedra rendered in virtual reality. Hart explains the intricate naming scheme for these shapes, which “has a certain logic,” he writes, and offers mathematical details for those so inclined. Also check out the link to photos of Hart's sculptures. Many of these real-world polyhedra, fashioned out of everything from polished wood to coffee stirrers to compact discs, are now exhibits in museums.

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