8 jun. 2014

Mad about polyhedra I

There are people in this world who do not know polyhedra yet.
But, on the other hand, there are people who someday know polyhedral and after this moment they will never let them go…

At the end of the XVI century, the astronomer and physicist Johannes Kepler believed that God had created a mystic and perfect universe. In this geometric universe, the orbits of the planets were inside of spheres where the 5 platonic solids (icosahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, tetrahedron and cube) were inscribed. Unfortunately for him, after years of analysis of the Tycho Brahe’s data, he concluded that the orbits of the planet were ellipses.

Nevertheless, in that epoch, the study and undertanding of the polyhedra was the obsession of many artists and scientists as the Italians Leonardo DaVinci and Luca Paccioli and the Germans Wenzel Jamnitzer and Lorenz Stöer, for example.

Mathematicians as Poinsot, Cauchy, Catalan, Bertrand, Poincaré, Schläfli and Schlegel, among others did considerable research to the study of polyhedra. However it is the British-Canadian mathematician Harold Coxeter who dedicated all his life to the study of solids geometry and left to future generations all his work.

By the way, Coxeter lived by the same years than the famous artist M.C. Escher of who, as it was said, could forget any other thing in his baggage with the exception of a polyhedron!

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