Polyhedra for Everyone

Anna Maria Hartkopf Image Credit: © Janine Kuehn

Anna Maria Hartkopf Image Credit: © Janine Kuehn

Joint Geometry Project of Freie Universität Berlin and Technische Universität Berlin

No 295/2018 from Oct 31, 2018

A geometry project at Freie Universität Berlin and Technische Universität Berlin provides insights into the world of polyhedra. Within the "Adopt a Polyhedron" project, mathematicians describe the properties of these geometric bodies that consist of corners, edges, and polygonal faces. Via the website www.polytopia.eu , interested individuals can take on a symbolic sponsorship for one of these mathematical objects and give it a name. Participation is free of charge. "Adopt a Polyhedron" is a subproject of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) Transregio 109 "Discretization in Dynamics and Geometry" based at Technische Universität Berlin and the Technical University of Munich. Freie Universität Berlin is involved in various subprojects.

"With this citizen science project, we want to create an opportunity for many individuals to participate actively and creatively in mathematics," says the spokesperson for the CRC, Alexander Bobenko, from Technische Universität Berlin. "Everyone is invited to take part and to adopt a polyhedron," says Professor Günter M. Ziegler, the president of Freie Universität Berlin and a professor of mathematics. He is also the doctoral supervisor of the project of Anna Maria Hartkopf, who heads the "Adopt a Polyhedron" project.

According to mathematician Anna Maria Hartkopf from the Institute of Mathematics, Freie Universität Berlin, the aim of the project is to make the infinite wealth of forms of the polyhedra tangible. The number of possible polyhedra grows rapidly with the number of corners. "For example, there is only one polyhedron with four corners, already more than 2,000 with nine corners, and quadrillions with 18 corners," explains Anna Maria Hartkopf. Therefore, despite an increasing number of sponsorships, she does not expect bottlenecks. "It is easy to guarantee supplying polyhedra to the world."

The website of the project ( www.polytopia.eu ) has templates that can be printed and then assembled. Thus, the adopted polyhedron can actually take shaped. "Graves of pharaohs, origami figures, and 3D objects in film animations and computer games actually differ little from a geometric perspective," says Anna Maria Hartkopf. The best-known polyhedra are the Platonic solids, for example, the cube.

The Project

www.polytopia.eu

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