Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On Hexagons

If you wanted to cover a large flat space with with equal pieces, without leaving any gaps, which shape would you choose?

In 300 CE, Pappus of Alexandria said that it was best to use Hexagons, just like bees do.  Pappu's idea remained a conjecture for 1700 years when in 1999, Thomas Hales proved that proved the Alexandian right through the honeycomb theorem.

I heard this for the first time in this TED video by Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón:

But how did bees determine that this was the best shape? And how do they pass this knowledge across generations?


* Why do honeybees love hexagons?

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