Etymology of the Word TessellationDate: 11/05/2001 at 07:30:13 From: Cindy Denning Subject: Tessellations Are tessellations related to the "tesseract" in Madeleine L'Engle's _Wrinkle in Time_ series? If so, can you tell me how? Date: 11/05/2001 at 08:14:56 From: Doctor Sarah Subject: Re: Tessellations Hi Cindy - thanks for writing to Dr. Math. Interesting question! Here's what Steven Schwartzman has to say about the etymologies of the two words in his _The Words of Mathematics - An Etymological Dictionary of Mathematical Terms Used in English_ (Mathematical Association of America). tessellate (verb), tessellation (noun): from Latin tessera "a square tablet" or "a die used for gambling." Latin tessera may have been borrowed from Greek tessares, meaning "four," since a square tile has four sides. The diminutive of tessera was tessella, a small, square piece of stone or a cubical tile used in mosaics. Since a mosaic extends over a given area without leaving any region uncovered, the geometric meaning of the word tessellate is "to cover the plane with a pattern in such a way as to leave no region uncovered." By extension, space or hyperspace may also be tessellated. tesseract (noun): the first component is from Greek tessares "four." The second component is from Greek aktis "ray of light." A tesseract is a four- dimensional hypercube. In other words, a tesseract is to four dimensions what a cube is to three and a square is to two. In the same way that a cube can be projected onto a plane, a tesseract can be projected (as if with rays of light) onto space; we can visualize the three-dimensional projection of the four-dimensional tesseract, even if we can't see the tesseract itself. - Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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