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Unlocking Puzzling Polygons

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Author:Ivars Peterson - Science News Online
Description: An ingenious proof settles a wickedly prickly question about unfurling crinkly polygons. Think of a polygon as a chain of rigid rods connected to each other in two dimensions with flexible joints. Start with any configuration, no matter how complex and intricately indented, or crinkly. Can you always find a sequence of moves that removes the indentations—unfurling the polygon into what mathematicians describe as a convex shape, like a triangle—without ever letting the rods cross each other?... Erik. D. Demaine of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Robert Connelly of Cornell University, and Günter Rote of the Free University of Berlin have proved that any polygon can be uncrinkled in two dimensions without any sides crossing each other during the unfolding.

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Triangles and Other Polygons

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