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51
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3answers
4k views

Is the sphere the only surface all of whose projections are circles? Or: Can we deduce a spherical Earth by observing that its shadows on the Moon are always circular?

Several ancient arguments suggest a curved Earth, such as the observation that ships disappear mast-last over the horizon, and Eratosthenes' surprisingly accurate calculation of the size of the Earth ...
38
votes
12answers
2k views

Can a discrete set of the plane of uniform density intersect all large triangles?

Let S be a discrete subset of the Euclidean plane such that the number of points in a large disc is approximatively equal to the area of the disc. Does the complement of S necessarily contain ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Why do I need densities in order to integrate on a non-orientable manifold?

Integration on an orientable differentiable n-manifold is defined using a partition of unity and a global nowhere vanishing n-form called volume form. If the manifold is not orientable, no such form ...
56
votes
2answers
3k views

Light reflecting off Christmas-tree balls

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28
votes
6answers
2k views

Is it possible to partition $\mathbb R^3$ into unit circles?

Is it possible to partition $\mathbb R^3$ into unit circles?
13
votes
6answers
2k views

Convex hull in CAT(0)

Let $X$ be complete $\mathop{CAT}(0)$-space and $K\subset X$ be a compact subset. Is it true that convex hull of $K$ is compact? Comments: Convex hull of $K$ = intersection of all closed convex ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

Rational points on a sphere in $\mathbb{R}^d$

Call a point of $\mathbb{R}^d$ rational if all its $d$ coordinates are rational numbers. Q1. Is the unit sphere $S :\; x_1^2 +\cdots+ x_d^2 = 1$ dense in rational points, i.e., does $S$ ...
4
votes
5answers
868 views

Feasibility of a list of prescribed distances in R^3

I am puzzled with the following problem: Given $n$ real numbers it is to obtain a Yes/No answer to: "whether it is possible to arrange different points in the Euclidean $\mathbb{R}^3$ so that every ...
4
votes
0answers
221 views

Symmetric matrices and Hilbert's fourth problem

From the analytic viewpoint, the Busemann-Pogorelov solution of Hilbert's fourth problem is summarized in the following result: Theorem. All straight lines are extremals of the variational problem $$ ...
4
votes
1answer
167 views

Monotonicity of Loewner ellipsoid?

Given two $0$-symmetric convex bodies $K \subset L \subset \mathbb{R}^n$, is it true that the Loewner ellipsoid of $K$ is contained in the Loewner ellipsoid of $L$? I have just finished a proving a ...
27
votes
10answers
3k views

Is there a mathematical axiomatization of time (other than, perhaps, entropy)?

Since Euclid's axiomatization of space, we have developed a sophisticated mathematical model of space. Given a category of structures (measures), local space is modeled the spectrum of measurements ...
46
votes
4answers
3k views

Tying knots with reflecting lightrays

Let a lightray bounce around inside a cube whose faces are (internal) mirrors. If its slopes are rational, it will eventually form a cycle. For example, starting with a point $p_0$ in the interior of ...
16
votes
2answers
865 views

Can the unsolvability of quintics be seen in the geometry of the icosahedron?

Q1. Is it possible to somehow "see" the unsolvability of quintic polynomials in the $A_5$ symmetries of the icosahedron (or dodecahedron)? Perhaps this is too vague a question. Q2. Are there ...
12
votes
3answers
618 views

Is there a midsphere theorem for 4-polytopes?

The (remarkable) midsphere theorem says that each combinatorial type of convex polyhedron may be realized by one all of whose edges are tangent to a sphere (and the realization is unique if the center ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Probing a manifold with geodesics

Supposed you stand at a point $p \in M$ on a smooth 2-manifold $M$ embedded in $\mathbb{R}^3$. You do not know anything about $M$. You shoot off a geodesic $\gamma$ in some direction $u$, and learn ...
15
votes
1answer
649 views

Blocking visibility with cylinders

Suppose you have a supply of infinite-length, opaque, unit-radius cylinders, and you would like to block all visibility from a point $p \in \mathbb{R}^3$ to infinity with as few cylinders as possible. ...
15
votes
5answers
879 views

Is a rhombus rigid on a sphere or torus? And generalizations.

If a rectangle is formed from rigid bars for edges and joints at vertices, then it is flexible in the plane: it can flex to a parallelogram. On any smooth surface with a metric, one can define a ...
9
votes
2answers
446 views

When can a freely moving sphere escape from a 'cage' defined by a set of impassible coordinates?

To ask this question in a (hopefully) more direct way: Please imagine that I take a freely moving ball in 3-space and create a 'cage' around it by defining a set of impassible coordinates, $S_c$ ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Intuitive proof that the first (n-2) coordinates on a sphere are uniform in a ball

It is a classical fact that if $(x_1,\ldots,x_n)$ is a random vector uniformly distributed on the sphere $S^{n-1} \subseteq \mathbb{R}^n$, then the random vector $(x_1,\ldots,x_{n-2})$ is uniformly ...
8
votes
0answers
171 views

Does there always exist a self dual polytope that contains a given polytope contained in its dual?

Suppose a polytope $P$ is contained in its dual polytope $\tilde{P}$. Does there always exist a polytope $Q$ that contains $P$ and is self dual $Q=\tilde{Q}$? Is there any bound on the minimal number ...
3
votes
3answers
560 views

What fraction of a sphere's volume lies within a cone?

Let $B \subset \mathbb{R}^n$ be a collection of $n$ (not necessarily independent) unit vectors which we will label $v_1,\ldots, v_n$ for convenience. The cone $K_B \subset \mathbb{R}^n$ associated to ...
16
votes
1answer
371 views

Egalitarian measures

A question I got asked I while ago: If $T$ is a triangle in $\mathbb R^2$, is there a function $f:T\to\mathbb R$ such that the integral of $f$ over each straight segment connecting two points in the ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Ping-pong relief map of a given function $z=f(x,y)$

I have an idea to design a type of Galton's Board to "draw" a relief map of a given two-dimensional function $z=f(x,y)$. A typical Galton's Board drops, say, ping-pong balls through a series of evenly ...
9
votes
0answers
172 views

Covering of the plane with manholes

Some shapes, such as the disk or the Releaux triangle can be used as manholes, that is, it is a curve of constant width. (The width between two parallel tangents to the curve are independent of the ...
7
votes
3answers
436 views

Set of vectors separated by at least a specified angle

Suppose theta and d are given. How big can a set of d-dimensional vectors be such that no pair of them are at angle less than theta? I particularly want an upper bound; that is, an n=n(theta,d) such ...
13
votes
1answer
755 views

Essentially one random metric on $\mathbb{S}^2$?

I heard it claimed that there is, in some sense, only one random metric on $\mathbb{S}^2$. I would appreciate any pointer to literature that explicates this intriguing claim. So far my own searches ...
9
votes
3answers
599 views

A “round” lattice with low kissing number?

Historically, the lattices with high density were studied intensively, e.g. E_8 lattice or Leech Lattice. However, there are situations that lattices with low kissing number are required. ...
7
votes
2answers
453 views

Fitting a mesh to a density function

Suppose I have a probability density function defined on a region in the plane (in my case, the pdf is of the form $f(x) = \alpha\|x\|^{-\beta}$, and the region is the unit disk). For large $N$, is ...
6
votes
2answers
169 views

Untangling entwined rigid chains in 3-space

I am interested in exploring the degree of "tangledness" of two rigid chains in space. A polygonal chain is a simple (non-self-intersecting) path of segments in $\mathbb{R}^3$, viewed as a rigid body. ...
4
votes
1answer
226 views

When is the hull of a space curve composed of developable patches?

Let $C$ be a smooth curve in $\mathbb{R}^3$ that lies entirely on its convex hull, $\cal{H}(C)$. Under what conditions on $C$ is $\cal{H}(C)$ the union of developable surface patches? I believe ...
6
votes
1answer
408 views

What is the shape of the $n$-gon which gives the maximum of a function?

What is the shape of the $n$-gon $P_1P_2\cdots P_n$ which gives the maximum of $A_n$? The quantity $A_n$ is defined by $$ A_n = \frac{{\sum_{i\lt{j}\le{n}}{\lvert P_i ...
4
votes
1answer
174 views

Zoll Flat Finsler tori and convex bodies on a starry night

The starry night. The "celestial sphere" is given by set of non-zero vectors in $\mathbb{R}^n$ modulo positive dilations (i.e., $v \equiv w$ if $v = \lambda w$ for some $ \lambda > 0$) and the ...
3
votes
1answer
179 views

cover and hide with squares

I am studying two numbers, related to squares, that can characterize a polygon P: MinCoverNumber = the minimum number of axis-aligned squares required to exactly cover P (the covering squares may ...
3
votes
5answers
572 views

Is the following two-dimensional graph likely to be globally rigid?

Consider the two-dimensional non-planar graph $G$, with known topology and edge lengths $(r_1, r_2, ... r_N) \in R$, but unknown vertex coordinates. We further specify that: All vertices within a ...
2
votes
2answers
457 views

Threading pinholes in the wall of cylinder to pass through an internal coordinate

Imagine I take a sheet of paper and use a pin to generate an $N$x$M$ rectangular array of small holes. I then fold the sheet to form a cylinder of radius $r_c$ and height $h_c$, where there are $N$ ...
2
votes
2answers
368 views

The consequence of overlap sharing for the length-distribution of rods randomly placed on a line

Please imagine that one populates a finite line of unit length, or circle with unit length contour (to avoid edge-effects), with $N$ one-dimensional 'rods' such that their LHS-ends, at positions ...
1
vote
2answers
4k views

Get a point inside a polygon

I have a 2D polygon of arbitrary geometry. I need to find any point that is inside of that polygon. Taking the center won't work, because the polygon might not be convex. Is there a way to quickly ...