Some Stellations of the Truncated Dodecahedron

The stellation-series of the truncated dodecahedron contains some interesting polyhedra. Selections from this series appear below.

24th Stellated Trunc Dodeca chiral

The polyhedron above is the 24th stellation of the truncated dodecahedron, while the one below is the 25th stellation.

25th stellation of Trunc Dodeca

27th Stellated Trunc Dodeca chiral

The polyhedron immediately above is the truncated dodecahedron’s 27th stellation. The one shown below is the 29th stellation.

29th Stellated Trunc Dodeca chiral

36th Stellated Trunc Dodeca chiral

The last two polyhedra in this post are the truncated dodecahedron’s 36th stellation (above), and its 70th stellation (below).

70th Stellated Trunc Dodeca

These images were created using Stella 4d, software available here.

 

The 11th, 13th, and 15th Stellations of the Icosahedron

First, this is the 11th stellation.

Stellated Icosa the 11th

Next, the 13th:

13th Stellated Icosa

And, finally, the 15th stellation of the icosahedron:

15th Stellated Icosa

I used Stella 4d, which you can find here, to make these.

Two Different Cluster-Polyhedra

Augmented Icosa with RIDs

An icosahedron is hidden from view in the center of this cluster-polyhedron. To create the cluster, each of the icosahedron’s triangles was augmented with a rhombicosidodecahedron. The resulting cluster has the overall shape of a dodecahedron.

To create the next cluster-polyhedron, I started with the one above, and then augmented each of its triangular faces with icosidodecahedra. 

large cluster os icosidodecahedrons.gif

I used a program named Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator to create these cluster-polyhedra. This software may be bought (or tried for free) at this website

An Expansion of the Rhombic Enneacontahedron with 422 Faces, Together with Its 360-Faced Dual

422 faces expansion of the REC

The polyhedron above had 422 faces and 360 vertices. In dual polyhedra, these numbers are reversed, so the next polyhedra (the dual of the first one) has 360 faces and 422 vertices. Both were created using Stella 4d, available here.

422 faces expansion of the REC the dual with 360 faces

For Science Teachers: A Safer Alternative to Liquid Mercury

Liquid mercury, in schools, poses three major problems:

  1. It is extremely toxic,
  2. It has a high vapor pressure, so you can be poisoned by invisible mercury vapor leaving any exposed surface of liquid mercury, and
  3. Playing with liquid mercury is a lot of fun.

These are compelling reasons to leave use of mercury to those at the college level, or beyond. In the opinion of this science teacher, use of liquid mercury in science classes, up through high school chemistry, inside or outside thermometers, is a bad idea. If the bulb at the bottom of a thermometer, as well as the colored stripe, looks silvery, as in the picture below (found on Wikipedia), then that silvery liquid is mercury, and that thermometer should not be used in labs for high school, let alone with younger children. Your local poison control center can help you find the proper thing to do with mercury in your area; it should definitely not just be thrown away, for we do not need this serious environmental toxin in landfills, where it will eventually reach, and poison, water. Red-stripe thermometers without any silvery line, on the other hand, are far safer, although broken glass can still cause injury.

Maximum_thermometer_close_up_2

I turned ten years old in 1978, and, by that time, I had already spent many hours playing (unsupervised) with liquid mercury, pouring it hand-to-hand, etc., so I know exactly how irresistible a “plaything” mercury can be, to children. Luck was on my side, and I suffered no ill effects, but I can state from experience that children should not be tempted with highly-toxic “mercury as a toy,” for it’s not a toy at all. Mercury spills require special “hazmat” training to clean up safely; anyone encountering such a spill who does not have such training should simply notify the proper authorities. In the USA, this means evacuating the area immediately, and then calling 911 — from far enough away to keep the caller from breathing invisible mercury vapor.

Fortunately, there is a safe alternative which can give students a chance to experiment with a room-temperature metal: an alloy of three parts gallium to one part indium, by mass. Gallium’s melting point is between normal human body temperature and room temperature, so it can literally melt in your hand (although a hot plate is faster). Indium, on the other hand, has a melting point of 156.6°C. For this reason, I will not buy a hot plate unless it can reach higher that that temperature. (Note: use appropriate caution and safety equipment, such as goggles and insulated gloves, with hot plates, and the things heated with them, to avoid burns.)

Once both elements are massed, in the proportions given above, they can then be melted in the same container. When they melt and mix together, they form an alloy which remains liquid at room temperature.

Some might wonder how mixing two elements can create an alloy with a melting point below the melting points of either of the two ingredients, and the key to that puzzle is related to atomic size. Solids have atoms which vibrate back and forth, but don’t move around each other. In liquids, the atoms are more disordered (and faster), and easily slip around each other. In solid, room-temperature gallium, all the atoms are of one size, helping the solid stay solid. Warm it a little, and it melts. With pure indium, this applies, also, but you have to heat it up a lot more to get it to melt. If the two metals are melted and thoroughly mixed, though, and then frozen (a normal freezer is cold enough), the fact that the atoms are of different sizes (indium atoms are larger than gallium atoms) means the atoms will be in a relatively disordered state, compared to single-element solids. In liquids, atoms are even more disordered (that is, they possess more entropy). Therefore, a frozen gallium/indium alloy, with two sizes of atoms, is already closer to a disordered, liquid state, in terms of entropy, than pure, solid gallium or indium at the same temperature. This is why the gallium-indium mixture has a melting point below either individual element — it requires a lower temperature to get the individual atoms to flow past each other, if they are already different atoms, with different sizes.

liquid metals

Those who have experience with actual liquid mercury will notice some important differences between it and this gallium-indium alloy, although both do appear to be silver-colored liquids. (This is why mercury is sometimes called “quicksilver.”) For one thing, their densities are different. A quarter, made of copper and nickel, will float on liquid mercury, for the quarter’s density is less than that of mercury. However, a quarter will sink in liquid 3:1 gallium-indium alloy. To float a metal on this alloy, one would need to use a less-dense metal, such as aluminum or magnesium, both of which sink in water, but float in liquid Ga/In alloy.

Other differences include surface tension; mercury’s is very high, causing small amounts of it on a floor to form little liquid balls which are difficult (and dangerous) to recapture. Gallium-indium alloy, by contrast, has much less surface tension. As a result, unlike mercury, this alloy does not “ball up,” and it will wet glass — and doing that turns the other side of the glass into a mirror. Actual mercury will not wet glass.

The most important differences, of course, is that indium and gallium are far less toxic than mercury, and that this alloy of those two elements has a much lower vapor pressure than that of mercury. Gallium and indium are not completely non-toxic, though. Neither indium nor gallium should be consumed, of course, and standard laboratory safety equipment, such as goggles and gloves, should be worn when doing laboratory experiments with these two elements.

A Polyhedral Journey, Beginning With an Expansion of the Rhombic Triacontahedron

The blue figure below is the rhombic triacontahedron. It has thirty identical faces, and is one of the Catalan solids, also known as Archimedean duals. This particular Catalan solid’s dual is the icosidodecahedron.

Rhombic Triaconta

I use a program called Stella 4d (available here) to transform polyhedra, and the next step here was to augment each face of this polyhedron with a prism, keeping all edge lengths the same.

Rhombic Triaconta augmented

After that, I created the convex hull of this prism-augmented rhombic triacontahedron, which is the smallest convex figure which can enclose a given polyhedron.

Convex hull

Another ability of Stella is the “try to make faces regular” function. Throwing this function at this four-color polyhedron above produced the altered version below, in which edge lengths are brought as close together as possible. It isn’t possible to do this perfectly, though, and that is most easily seen in the yellow faces. While close to being squares, they are actually trapedoids.

ch after ttmfr

For the next transformation, I looked at the dual of this polyhedron. If I had to name it, I would call it the trikaipentakis icosidodecahedron. It has two face types: sixty of the larger kites, and sixty of the smaller ones, also.

ch after ttmfr dual

Next, I used prisms, again, to augment each face. The height used for these prisms is the length of the edges where orange kites meet purple kites.

aug ch after ttmfr dual

Lastly, I made the convex hull of the polyhedron above. This convex hull appears below.

Convex hull again