Longtime friend of the Aperiodical, artist, mathematician and #BigMathOff semifinalist Edmund Harriss has come up with a new puzzle/toy/exploration set, developing his Curvahedra system. We asked him to explain the maths behind it in this guest post.
Curvahedra is a flexible system of connectors that can make all sorts of different things, combining puzzles (and self-created puzzles) with art. You can get your own to play with, explore, prepare for Christmas (they make great decorations, wreaths and presents) at our online store, and get 15% off with the discount code APERIODICAL.
As this is the Aperiodical, you might be most interested in how it can be used to explore mathematics. In the big math off I talked about the basic ideas behind the system, Gauss’ famous Theorema Egregium and Gauss-Bonnet theorems. A really simple version of this comes from just considering triangles, that can be built up to make this:
Exams have a nasty habit of sucking the joy out of a subject. My interest in proper literature was dulled by A-Level English, and I celebrated my way out of several GCSE papers – in subjects I’d picked because I enjoyed them – saying “I’ll never have to do that again.”
Geometry is a topic that generally suffers badly from this – but fortunately, Ed Southall and Vincent Pantaloni’s Geometry Snacks is here to set that right.
Friend of the site Matt Parker recently made headlines because of his UK Government Petition to correct the heinous geometrical oddity that is the UK Tourist sign for a football ground. In the standard sign, somehow a sheet of tessellating hexagons is depicted as wrapping around a sphere in a highly improbable (and provably impossible) way.
The petition has achieved a modicum of success, in that it’s passed the 10,000 signatures required to elicit a response from the government. Sadly, the response isn’t quite what you’d like to hear.
Aperiodipal and number ninja, Stand-up Mathematician Matt Parker, has set up a petition on the UK parliament petitions website to change the awful, awful tourist board official symbol for a football ground (US readers: imagine I’m saying ‘soccer stadium’). In Matt’s words:
The football shown on UK street signs (for football grounds) is made entirely of hexagons. But it is mathematically impossible to construct a ball using only hexagons. Changing this to the correct pattern of hexagons and pentagons would help raise public awareness and appreciation of geometry.
To end this madness, Matt needs 10,000 signatures for the petition to be responded to by the government (and 100,000 for it to considered for debate in parliament). It’s currently around the 3,000 mark – so it’s plausible that he might do it. It’s also had coverage in The Independent already, and Matt’s YouTube video on the campaign already has over 100,000 views.
To sign, you simply need to be a British citizen or UK resident, and fill in your details on the site (you’ll need a valid postcode). Ban this hexagonal filth!
Update the UK Traffic Signs Regulations to a geometrically correct football, on UK Parliament Petitions
Edmund Harriss is a very good friend of the Aperiodical, and a mathematical artist of quite some renown. His latest project is CURVAHEDRA, a system of bendable boomerang-like pieces which join together to make all sorts of geometrical structures.
Ohio State University mathematician Niles Johnson got in touch on Friday to tell us that our π Approximation Challenge last year had inspired him to hatch an audacious plan to measure a really big π.
The word ‘geometry’ is derived from the Greek for ‘measurement of land’, and Dr. Johnson took that quite literally: he wanted to measure the Great Circle Earthworks in Heath, Ohio; a part of the Newark Earthworks (not their original name) built over 2,000 years ago.