10 thoughts on “Deadly icosahedra

  1. Thanks! I just got y copy of Mathematica today, and I am rediscovering it after 10 years without using it. Some things have changed a lot.

  2. Reminds me of a toy my kids had, a red and blue dodecahedron with holes for various yellow shapes.

  3. Sue, a virus can use multiple copies of a single protein to generate a shape such as an icosahedron. Therefore, it needs much less DNA or RNA to encode for protein(s) that coat the surface than if one or more large proteins were used for the surface. Viruses don’t tend to be big on genetic material. For example, HIV-1 encodes just 9 genes. An icosahedron seems to be a good arrangement to get a lot of surface coverage by repeating the same protein(s).

  4. John,

    I think my kids had the same toy. While I was playing with it with my daughter, I idly wondered what conditions were sufficient to ensure that the shapes fit thorugh no more than one hole. I realized that keeping the areas of the shapes constant was enough. Mentioning it to my wife, I gave her further proof that I’m a math geek, to her great amusement.

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