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Make your own bauble with icosahedral symmetry with Shapeways

shapeways-bauble

Internet 3D printing emporium Shapeways has released a nifty little tool to create your own unique Christmas bauble, which they’ll print out and send to you in time for the festive season.

It works by mapping a triangular design onto a blown-out icosahedron, and applying some “kaleidoscope effects”. As far as I can tell, that means they expand and rotate the patterns so they overlap.

There’s a selection of built-in patterns you can choose from, or you can upload your own pattern to make a really unique decoration. However, because the resulting object needs to exist in the real world, you need to take care to make sure it all comes out in one connected piece. Shapeways have written some very clear instructions about how to achieve that.

Play: Ornament Creator from Shapeways

via Vladimir Bulatov on Google+, who seems to work for Shapeways now. Exciting!

Deck the halls with τ of holly, formula-la-laaa!

Christmas is a time for giving, celebrating, family and magic. But did you know it’s also a time for equations? Department store Debenhams has decided to honour this recent Christmas tradition by tasking at least two members of Sheffield University’s undergraduate maths society to come up with formulae for ‘a perfectly decorated Christmas tree‘, picked up by The Sun, The Metro and others.

Christmas Tree

Photo by Aleksandar Cocek, used under a Creative Commons licence.

Previous festive howlers include ‘the formula for the perfect family Christmas‘ (sponsored by The Children’s Society to promote a book) and a prior stab at ‘the equation for the ideal Christmas tree‘ (sponsored by B&Q), which are just nonsensical strings of abbreviations. However, unlike those examples of naff-ematics, the Sheffield tree-decorating equations make enough sense for me to take a critical, overly-serious look at them on their own merits, and show how you might begin to come up with something more rational.

Interesting Esoterica Summation, volume 4

Dust off your thinking hat and do some mind-stretches because here’s another course of Interesting Maths Esoterica! It’s been several months since the last volume so this is quite a big post. I won’t mind if you skim it.

In case you’re new to this: every now and then I encounter a paper or a book or an article that grabs my interest but isn’t directly useful for anything. It might be about some niche sub-sub-subtopic I’ve never heard of, or it might talk about something old from a new angle, or it might just have a funny title. I put these things in my Interesting Esoterica collection on Mendeley. And then when I’ve gathered up enough, I collect them here.