Fun with Geometry — Biological and Theoretical

For some reason today I was thinking of the 3D shape scientists recently discovered in our cells — I had to look it up just now to refresh my memory. Not being an expert in geometry, I would describe the “scutoid” as an irregular prism-like shape with a hexagon on one end and a pentagon on the other, with the sides broken up in a specific way that allows the shapes to be packed together. 

A computer animation showing scutiods, complex 3D geometrical shapes (like an irregular prism with a hexagon on one end and a pentagon on the other, with the sides broken up in such a way as to create several irregular polygons, some planar and some non-planar, that let two identical scutoids fit together in multiple different ways.

I confess I’m not entirely clear on whether these biological building blocks grow that way, or they take on that shape based on the way they are packed together.

I’m 1/6 of the way through a compressed American Literature course, and while I enjoy it immensely, I appreciate giving the textual / analytical / qualitative part of my brain a break as I exercise the spatial / kinesthetic / quantitative part of my brain something new to think about, such as “Penrose tiling” (below).

Mathematicians predicted that if they imposed enough restrictions on how a shape might tile space, they could force a periodic pattern to emerge. But they were wrong. — Magazine

Check out the amazing correction posted to the above page. (I have a very basic unit on math in my intro to journalism course, and I also have a unit on corrections; I’m posting this so I can find it again:


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