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**53**

votes

**3**answers

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
...

**28**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### “Softness” vs “rigidity” in Geometry

According to common wisdom, there are structures in Geometry that have a more "topological" flavor, others that are more "geometrical", and others that are halfway between. Usually, geometries${}^*$ ...

**32**

votes

**10**answers

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 ...

**11**

votes

**5**answers

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 ...

**58**

votes

**2**answers

3k views

**29**

votes

**6**answers

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

**3**answers

672 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 ...

**4**

votes

**5**answers

943 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 ...

**13**

votes

**1**answer

318 views

### The sparsest planar net that captures every unit segment

Let $\cal C = \lbrace C_i \rbrace$ be a collection
of rectifiable curves in the plane with the property that
every unit-length segment meets at least one curve
in at least one point.
Call such a ...

**4**

votes

**0**answers

230 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
$$
...

**46**

votes

**4**answers

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

**2**answers

927 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 ...

**17**

votes

**2**answers

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

**1**answer

659 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

**5**answers

906 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 ...

**12**

votes

**0**answers

417 views

### Does every connected set that is not a line segment cross some dyadic square?

A dyadic square is a subset of $R^2$ of the form $x + 2^{-n} [0,1]^2$ with $x \in 2^{-m} Z^2$, for integers $m,n \geq 0$. We say that a set $A$ crosses a square $S$ if there exists a connected subset ...

**9**

votes

**2**answers

458 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

**2**answers

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 ...

**14**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Hanging a ball with string

What is the shortest length of string that suffices to hang
a unit-radius ball $B$?
This question is related to an earlier MO question, but I think different.
Assume that the ball is ...

**8**

votes

**0**answers

174 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

**3**answers

589 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 ...

**13**

votes

**1**answer

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 ...

**6**

votes

**2**answers

581 views

### Maximal number of connected components of complement to an affine plane real algebraic curve

Let $X$ be a (singular, reducible) affine plane real algebraic curve of degree $d$.
How we can estimate maximal number of connected components of it's complement in $R^2$ in terms of degree?

**13**

votes

**1**answer

802 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 ...

**10**

votes

**3**answers

603 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

**2**answers

474 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

**2**answers

172 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. ...

**6**

votes

**2**answers

458 views

### Dense sphere packings which are not lattice packings

This question is about dense sphere packings in euclidean space $\mathbb R^n$. By a sphere packing I understand any arrangement of mutually disjoint solid open spheres in $\mathbb R^n$, all of the ...

**4**

votes

**1**answer

240 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

**1**answer

426 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

**1**answer

184 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

**1**answer

191 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

**5**answers

578 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

**1**answer

368 views

### Minimizing the Perimeter of a polyomino

Imagine I generate some polyomino (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyomino) with $N$ unit squares, under the constraint that I want to maximize the number of shared edges between unit squares, or ...

**2**

votes

**2**answers

471 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

**2**answers

384 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 ...