Secrets of the Beehive
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|Keith Devlin; Guardian Unlimited Archive|
|The 4th century geometer Pappus was one of several ancient Greek mathematicians who suspected that the elegant shape of the honeycomb was a result not of an innate bee-sense of geometric beauty but of nature's efficiency. The repeating pattern of six-sided figures you see in a cross-section of a honeycomb, Pappus guessed, used the least amount of wax to build the walls. His guess, in an essay on "the sagacity of bees", became known as the Honeycomb Conjecture. It resisted all attempts to prove it until a few weeks ago, when mathematician Thomas Hales of the University of Michigan announced that he had cracked the puzzle...|
|Levels:||High School (9-12), College|
|Math Topics:||Order/Lattices, Convex/Discrete Geometry, Triangles and Other Polygons|
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