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Topic: "real world" uses of topology?
Replies: 15   Last Post: Mar 4, 2001 5:51 PM

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Posts: 99
Registered: 12/13/04
Re: "real world" uses of topology?
Posted: Mar 3, 2001 1:56 PM
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In article <9b7o6.8590$>, Martin Green
<> writes:
(quoting <>)

>> A friend in chemistry asked me recently about uses
>> of topology that have found their way into the
>> "real" world. I was hard pressed to give
>> examples.

>> Can you help?

> Someone once developed a vidoe game that was supposed to be
> like a 3-d version of Tetris. It was played on a spherical
> planet that was laid out in a checkerboard. You could
> rotate the sphere left, right, up, and down, and you always
> saw this checkerboard pattern in front of you.
> Topologically, this is impossible on a shpere!
> How did the game developers solve this problem???

> (PS The answer is a perfect real-world application of
> topology.)

The following may not be exactly what is being sought, but
may come close:

"For me, the little Australopithecus baby has a personal
history. In 1950, when its humanity was by no means accepted, I
was asked to do a piece of mathematics. Could I combine a
measure of the size of the Taung child's teeth with their shape,
so as to discriminate them from the teeth of apes? I had never
held a fossil skull in my hands, and I was by no means an expert
on teeth. But it worked pretty well; and it transmitted to me a
sense of excitement which I remember at this instant. I, at over
forty, having spent a lifetime in doing abstract mathematics
about the shape of things, suddenly saw my knowledge reach back
two million years and shine a searchlight into the history of
man. That was phenomenal."
-- Jacob Bronowski, "THE ASCENT OF MAN"

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