What Are Chiral Polyhedra? An Explanation, with Examples

Convex hhgfull

Two polyhedra are shown in this post — one which is chiral, and a similar one which is not. The non-chiral polyhedron in this pair is above. Its mirror-image is not any different from itself, except if you consider the direction of rotation.

The similar polyhedron below, however, features an overall “twist,” causing it to qualify as a chiral polyhedron. In its mirror-image (not shown, unless you use a mirror to make it visible), the “twisting” goes in the opposite direction. The direction of rotation would be reversed as well, of course, in a reflected image.

Codjfhnvexsdjag hhgfull

Multiple terms exist for mirror-image pairs of chiral polyhedra, the most well-known of which are the snub cube ansd snub dodecahedron, two of the thirteen Archimedean Solids. Some prefer to call them “enantiomers,” but many others prefer the more familiar term “reflections,” which I often use. I’ve also seen such polyhedra referred to as “left-handed” and “right-handed” forms, but I avoid these anthropomorphic terms related to handedness, simply because, if there is an established rule which would let me know whether any given chiral polyhedron is left- or right-handed, I’m not familiar with it. (Also, polyhedra do not have hands.) I could not, therefore, tell you if the example shown above would be correctly described as left- or right-handed — either because no such rule exists, or there is such a rule, but it is unknown to me. If the latter, I would appreciate it if someone would provide the details in a comment.

Both images above were created with Stella 4d, software you can try, for free, right here.

About RobertLovesPi

I go by RobertLovesPi on-line, and am interested in many things. The majority of these things are geometrical. Welcome to my little slice of the Internet. The viewpoints and opinions expressed on this website are my own. They should not be confused with the views of my employer, nor any other organization, nor institution, of any kind.
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One Response to What Are Chiral Polyhedra? An Explanation, with Examples

  1. swo8 says:

    Nice!
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

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