Cosmic Egg

It’s the season of eggs (chocolate and otherwise), and I woke up the other morning thinking about geometric shapes. It turns out that if you pack a bunch of spheres together, they fall into a pattern where each sphere is surrounded by twelve others, which conceal the central one. This is the image that was in my head, twelve spheres making the eggshell and the yolk hidden away in the middle. I don’t think you can get a proper feel for a shape until you can hold it in your hand, so I got out the table tennis balls and blu-tack. Here’s the result:


The shape is called a cuboctahedron or dymaxion. You can make one for yourself easily enough. Take thirteen table tennis balls, and a little bit of something sticky to join them. Make three layers as shown – the top and the bottom layers made of three spheres, and the middle is our old friend the dancing floor.


Then you just put them on top of each other. The resulting shape has the twelve outer spheres arranged in both squares and triangles (just like astrology). It has four dancing floors, one in each world, each made from triple spirals. And hidden away in the centre is the still point.

There’s a nice animation of the formation of the dymaxion on the Sareoso website here.

But really, if you’re interested – make one you can hold in your hand!


About singinghead

druid, mathematician, blogger, gardener...
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