Gmbc: Hungarian Breakthrough In Mathematics

Does anybody know what a Rubik’s cube is? “Who doesn’t,” you might answer.
Mathematical Intelligencer, the famous mathematical magazine had the Rubik’s cube on it’s cover in 1979. Now, almost three decades later, once again, a Hungarian invention appeared on the cover. The Gömböc (In Hungarian: “small round shape”).

For me, the most interesting facts were these:

If we describe gömböc mathematically, we can say that it’s roundness equals one, which means it is a ball … mathematically.

The shape can not be found in the nature (in objects), because the shape is really fragile, and any small altering in the shape is fatal. That is why scientists couldn’t find this shape before, fecause they couldn’t see anything like that in the nature (Domokos Gábor realized this on his honeymoon).

The two scientists think that a type of turtles might be the key to this problem, because if something has to maintain the shape, then DNA is the thing, that is able to do that.

The turtles in question are able to roll back to their stomach without help, from any position they get to. (This is the main feature of gömböc, because having only one stable and one unstable point of equilibrium means that the object will roll back to a certain position. It’s only stable balance point.)

The Gömböc got huge attention after one of the biggest mathematicians on the world, V.I. Arnold received one on his 70th birthday.

The shape is an invention of the scientists Domokos Gábor, who is working at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, teaching the generation of future Architects and and Várkonyi Péter, from Princeton university.

BUTE is the university I study at.

On the ‘Night of the Museums’ I went to listen to the presentation of the inventers. I expected it to be a boring and dry lesson, but Domokos Gábor filled the pure scientific facts with humour and unbeliveable stories about him meeting prof.

Arnold for the first time, how their first projects gave them severe headaches, and how did he and his wife collected and sorted thousands of stones on their honeymoon.

Even the research topics were presented in a humorous way. “I spent the first month of work by checking dictionaries for definitions for the description of that mathematical problem. I didn’t understand the words I was reading.”

He also brought a gömböc to show us how it works. I think he’ll do the same at other countries, as they are traveling around the world.

Please visit their presentations, if they hold one near your town.

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