Deprecated; please use a more specific tag.

**69**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Light rays bouncing in twisted tubes

Imagine a smooth curve $c$ sweeping out a unit-radius disk that is
orthogonal to the curve at every point.
Call the result a tube.
I want to restrict the radius of curvature of $c$ to be at most 1.
I ...

**58**

votes

**2**answers

3k views

**51**

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
...

**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 ...

**43**

votes

**8**answers

5k views

### Fair but irregular polyhedral dice

I am interested in determining a collection of geometric conditions that will guarantee that a convex polyhedron
of $n$ faces is a fair die in the sense that, upon random rolling, it has an equal ...

**39**

votes

**12**answers

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 ...

**38**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### What do Weierstrass points look like?

As somebody who mostly works with smooth, real manifolds, I've always been a little uncomfortable with Weierstrass points. Smooth manifolds are totally homogeneous, but in the complex category you ...

**34**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### The maximum of a polynomial on the unit circle

Encouraged by the progress made in a recently posted MO problem, here is a "conceptually related" problem originating from a 2003 joint paper of Sergei Konyagin and myself.
Suppose we are given $n$ ...

**33**

votes

**7**answers

4k views

### “Algebraic” topologies like the Zariski topology?

The fact that a commutative ring has a natural topological space associated with it is still a really interesting coincidence. The entire subject of Algebraic geometry is based on this simple fact.
...

**30**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Pach's “Animals”: What if genus $> 0$ ?

Janos Pach asked a deep question 23 years ago (1988) that remains unsolved today:
Can every animal—a topological ball in $\mathbb{R^3}$
composed of unit cubes glued face-to-face—be ...

**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?

**29**

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 ...

**28**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### $\exists$ a shot in ideal pocket billiards?

Assume you have one shot with the cue ball in pocket billiards (a.k.a. pool), with
the game idealized in that no spin is placed on the cue ball in
the initial shot, all collisions between billiard ...

**27**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Is “Napkin conjecture” open ? (ORIGAMI)

If false the following conjecture would be a nice counter intuitive fact.
Given a square sheet of perimeter $P$ when folding it along Origami moves you end up with some polygonal flat figure with ...

**27**

votes

**4**answers

741 views

### Can every $\mathbb{Z}^2$ disk be pinball-reached?

Let every point of $\mathbb{Z}^2$ be surrounded by a mirrored disk of radius $r < \frac{1}{2}$,
except leave the origin $(0,0)$ unoccupied by a disk.
Q. Is it the case that every disk can be ...

**27**

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${}^*$ ...

**23**

votes

**9**answers

3k views

### Why is the Laplacian ubiquitous?

The title says it all.
I'm wondering why the Laplacian appears everywhere, e.g. number theory, Riemannian geometry, quantum mechanics, and representation theory. And people seems to care about their ...

**23**

votes

**5**answers

3k views

### Why is Fourier analysis so handy for proving the isoperimetric inequality?

I have just completed an introductory course on analysis, and have been looking over my notes for the year. For me, although it was certainly not the most powerful or important theorem which we ...

**23**

votes

**2**answers

712 views

### The kissing number of a square, cube, hypercube?

How many nonoverlapping unit squares can (nonoverlappingly) touch one unit square?
By "nonoverlapping" I mean: not sharing an interior point.
By "touch" I mean: sharing a boundary point.
...

**23**

votes

**7**answers

3k views

### Is there a generalisation of the “sunflower spiral” to higher dimensions?

There is a well known pattern that turns up in nature involving the golden ratio $\phi = \frac{\sqrt{5}-1}{2}$.
To get this "sunflower spiral" pattern, put the $k$th node at an angle of $2\pi \phi ...

**22**

votes

**2**answers

895 views

### Geometry of complex elliptic curves

Is there an elliptic curve in CP^2 whose induced Remannian metric ( induced from the Fubini-Sudy metric on CP^2) is Euclidian flat?

**22**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Why is the half-torus rigid?

The half-torus surface that results from slicing a torus like a bagel,
depicted below (left), is isometrically rigid.
I know this from a remark of Alexandrov in
Mathematics: ...

**21**

votes

**5**answers

1k views

### What is a good method to find random points on the n-sphere when n is large?

As part of a more complex algorithm, I need a fast method to find random points of the n-sphere, $S^n$, starting with a RNG (random number generator). A simple way to do this (in low dimensions at ...

**21**

votes

**7**answers

2k views

### Rolle's theorem in n dimensions

This looks like a statement from a calculus textbook, which perhaps it should be.
"Rolle's theorem". Let $F\colon [a,b]\to\mathbb R^n$ be a continuous function such that F(a)=F(b) and F'(t) exists ...

**21**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Parabolic envelope of fireworks

The envelope of parabolic trajectories from a common launch point
is itself a parabola.
In the U.S. this weekend many will have a chance to
observe this fact direcly, as the 4th of July is ...

**21**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### Nonconvex manhole covers

One common reason given for the circularity of manhole covers is so they can't fall through the manhole. For convex manhole covers, this property is equivalent to having constant width -- if you have ...

**20**

votes

**5**answers

802 views

### Iterated Circumcircle

Take three noncollinear points (a,b,c), compute the center of their circumcircle x, and replace a random one of a,b,c with x. Repeat. It seems this process may converge to a point, assuming no ...

**20**

votes

**2**answers

887 views

### Forbidden mirror sequences

Let $\cal{M}$ be a finite collection of two-sided mirrors,
each an open unit-length segment in $\mathbb{R^2}$,
and such that the segments when closed are disjoint.
A ray of light that reflects off the ...

**20**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Functions whose gradient-descent paths are geodesics

Let $f(x,y)$ define a surface $S$
in $\mathbb{R}^3$ with a unique local minimum at $b \in S$.
Suppose gradient descent from any start point $a \in S$
follows a geodesic on $S$ from $a$ to $b$.
(Q1.)
...

**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 ...

**20**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### A Weak Form of Borsuk's Conjecture

Problem: Let P be a d-dimensional polytope with n facets. Is it always true that P can be covered by n sets of smaller diameter?
Background and motivation
The Borsuk conjecture (disproved in ...

**19**

votes

**3**answers

3k views

### Sheaves and bundles in differential geometry

Because the theory of sheaves is a functorial theory, it has been adopted in algebraic geometry (both using the functor of points approach and the locally ringed space approach) as the "main theory" ...

**18**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### What upper bounds are known for the diameter of the minimum spanning tree of $n$ uniformly random points in $[0,1]^2$?

Let $P$ be a pointset consisting of $n$ uniformly random elements of $[0,1]^2$. It is known that the diameter (greatest number of edges in any shortest path between two points) of the Delaunay ...

**17**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Is there a combinatorial analogue of Ricci flow?

The question of generalising circle packing to three dimensions was asked in 65677. There is a clear consensus that there is no obvious three dimensional version of circle packing.
However I have ...

**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 ...

**17**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Minimal surface in a ball

Assume a minimal surface $\Sigma$ has boundary on the unit sphere in the Euclidean space
and $r$ is the distance from $\Sigma$ to the center of the ball.
Is it true that
$$\mathop{\rm area} \Sigma\ge ...

**17**

votes

**2**answers

845 views

### Four Dimensional Origami Axioms

What are the axioms of four dimensional Origami.
If standard Origami is considered three dimensional, it has points, lines, surfaces and folds to create a three dimensional form from the folded ...

**17**

votes

**2**answers

783 views

### Placing points on a sphere so that no 3 lie close to the same plane

Motivation
I am working with arbitrary parallelopiped tilings given by projection from a higher dimensional space. The collection of tiles, and some properties of the higher dimensional space are ...

**16**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Classification of PDE

Recently I have been attending a course on PDE's. I was totally ignorant of the subject and wasn't that motivated to be honest. But I was intrigued and felt I had to take the course seriously both for ...

**16**

votes

**2**answers

878 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 ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

373 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 ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

550 views

### Is the ball reducible in some high dimension?

Let $K$ be a bounded symmetric ($-K=K$) open convex body in $\mathbb R^n$. The critical determinant $d(K)$ of $K$ is the least possible volume $|\operatorname{det}(a_1\dots a_n)|$
of the fundamental ...

**16**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Prescribing areas of parallelograms (or 2x2 principal minors)

Let $(a_{ij})$ be a $n\times n$ symmetric matrix such that $a_{ij}\geq 0$ for all $i,j$ and $a_{ii}=0$ for all $i$. Under which conditions on the $a_{ij}$'s can one find $n$ vectors ...

**16**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### A question about the proof of Mostow rigidity

I have recently been studying a proof of Mostow rigidity (along the lines of Mostow's original argument), and I'm left a little confused about something. We start with an isomorphism $\alpha: \Gamma ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### What can be said about the Shadow hull and the Sight hull?

This is a question implicitly raised by 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 ...

**15**

votes

**4**answers

601 views

### Sweep-segment bot: Will this random walk sweep the plane?

This model is inspired by the random behavior of the
Roomba sweeping robot.
Let a unit segment $ab$ in the plane be placed
initially with $a=(0,0)$ and $b=(1,0)$.
The segment is first rotated a ...

**15**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Largest hyperbolic disk embeddable in Euclidean 3-space?

Hilbert proved that there's no complete regular (C^k for sufficiently large k) isometric embedding of the hyperbolic plane into R^3. On the other hand, the pseudosphere is locally isometric to the ...

**15**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### A book on locally ringed spaces?

Are there enough interesting results that hold for general locally ringed spaces for a book to have been written? If there are, do you know of a book? If you do, pelase post it, one per answer and a ...

**15**

votes

**2**answers

300 views

### Integer lattice points on a hypersphere

Is the following statement true?
For every integer $n\ge2$ and every integer $k\ge0$ there exists a hypersphere in $\mathbb{R}^n$ (circle, sphere etc) containing exactly $k$ integer lattice ...

**15**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Turning pants inside-out (or backwards) while tied together

An entertaining topological party trick that I have seen performed is to turn your pants inside-out while having your feet tied together by a piece of string. For a demonstration, check out this ...