Math Monday: Mathematical crochet

Science
Math Monday: Mathematical crochet

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

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After last week’s column on mathematical quilts, I thought I should continue in the fiber arts category with mathematical objects that can be made by crochet. Matthew Wright at the University of Chicago has crocheted some beautiful Seifert surfaces, shown below. These are (approximately) the form that a soap film would take if you made a knot out of wire and dipped it in soap solution. The first is based on a trefoil knot, made from a continuous path of blue yarn, with a red Seifert surface spanning it.

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The example below is based on the Borromean rings — three separate loops which are locked together. The black surface shows the intricate shape of the soap film that would form between them.

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If you would like to crochet your own Seifert surfaces, you can explore an infinite variety to choose from with the SeifertView program.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn

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