Tales Told by the Spheres: Closest Packing
Much has been written over the years by mathematicians and scientists about the problem of “closepacking” equiradius spheres. It’s not a subject that the rest of humanity has tended to get excited about; however, the orderly patterns revealed by these packings are unexpectedly fascinating. Closepacking equiradius spheres might at first sound like the type of abstract mathematical game Fuller railed against; after all, there’s no such thing as a sphere. But if nature exhibits no examples of pure spheres—that is, no perfectly continuous surfaces equidistant from one center—we can still discuss the concept of a spherical domain. Imagine various approximations of the model, such as a soap bubble or, less fragile, a Ping Pong ball. The concept of multiple equiradius spheres turns out to be quite useful, providing a superb tool with which to investigate the properties of space. Let’s look into some of the reasons why.
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