This is the Google calendar, which I invented in 14 AG. I was born in 30 BG, and it is now 21 AG. The calendar used most often in the West has several serious flaws — the lack of a year zero is but one of them. On this calendar, Google Year Zero is the year Google first went on-line (1998 CE, on the Western calendar). Each new year on the Google calendar begins on January 1st, as billions of people are already used to. This calendar is offered to all, as a secular replacement for the multiple, culture-specific calendars we are using now.
As new pics from the Pluto/Charon system become available, you can’t beat the image gallery at the New Horizons portion of NASA’s website to keep up with them, which is where I found this .gif file showing images of Pluto itself throughout the years. It culminates in the latest, and most detailed, image of any part of Pluto — a small portion of its surface. To see more of the latest pics, as they are released, I refer you to that web-page. NASA plans to keep it updated with the latest from the Pluto/Charon system, for months to come, as new images are transmitted, received, and processed.
The big surprise today is not the “heart of Pluto” that’s gotten so much press this week, but something newly discovered (and completely unexpected) with the latest small batch of new pics: on both Pluto and Charon, they can’t find a single impact crater. Not one. And that is just flat-out weird. Here, see for yourself (same image source): unexpected ice mountains, check; unexpectedly-smooth plains, check; craters — hey, the craters are missing!
According to everything we know, impact craters should be there. The ice mountains and numerous plains are mysteries, also, but it is the lack of craters which really has scientists puzzled this morning. Everyone expected to see lots of impact craters, myself included. Small worlds, so far from the sun, should have frozen internally long ago, based on present models, making them geologically dead, and therefore unable to “erase” impact craters (seen on dozens of other planets, dwarf planets, satellites, and asteroids) with surface-altering geological activity. This mass-erasure-of-craters happens on a only a few other solid bodies in the solar system, such as Earth, and Jupiter’s moon Io — both larger, and much warmer, than anything in the Pluto/Charon system. Some scientists are already going public with conjectures for the energy source needed to keep Pluto and Charon crater-free. However, I have yet to read any such conjecture which I find convincing, which is why I am not including them in this post. (Such guesswork is easy to find, though, here, among other places.)
On the other hand, the scientific community has had very little time, yet, to explain this new puzzle; there might be a convincing explanation out there by this time next week — or this could persist, as one of many mysteries in astronomy, for decades. At this point, it is too early to even venture a guess regarding when, if ever, this mystery will be solved.
Pertrigonometric functions are modifications of the three primary trigonometric functions. Unlike the familiar sine, cosine, and tangent functions, the “pertrig” functions include triangle perimeter in their right-triangle-based definitions, which are given in the bulleted list below. The longer form of “pertrigonometric functions” is “perimeter-based trigonometric functions,” and the shorter, informal version is “pertrig functions.”
- The persine of an acute angle (abbreviated “pers”) equals the length of the side opposite that angle, in a right triangle, divided by the triangle’s perimeter.
- The percosine of an acute angle (abbreviated “perc”) equals the length of the leg adjacent to that angle, in a right triangle, divided by the triangle’s perimeter.
- The pertangent of an acute angle (abbreviated “pert”) equals the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle containing this acute angle, divided by the triangle’s perimeter.
After defining these terms, I used Geometer’s Sketchpad to construct a right triangle containing a 10º angle, and then used the “measure” and “calculate” functions to find the values of pers(10º), perc(10º), and pert(10º). Since these are ratios, they would have the same values shown for larger or smaller right triangles which contain 10º angles.
An observation: the pertangents of complementary angles are equal. Why? Because complementary angles appear in all right triangles, as pairs of acute angles in the same triangle. For each such complementary angle pair, therefore, the same triangle is used to define pertangent. The hypotenuse/perimeter ratio (which is pertangent) would, it follows, remain unchanged — because both its numerator and denominator remain unchanged. This relationship does not hold for the tangent function; instead, the tangents of complementary acute angles are reciprocals of each other.
Of course, I wanted to know more than just the pers, perc, and pert values for 10º, but I had no desire to repeat the same calculations, many more times, to form a table. Instead, I simply graphed the functions, again using Geometer’s Sketchpad. The units on the x-axis are degrees, not radians.
In the graph above, the dark blue curve is the persine function, with the sine function in light blue, for comparison. Similarly, percosine is shown in red, with cosine shown in pink. Finally, pertangent is shown with a heavy, dark green curve, while tangent is shown as a thinner, light green curve.
Entering the equations for these curves was a little tricky, due to the fact that I wanted this graph to venture beyond 0 and 90 degrees, in both directions, on the x-axis. When that is done, the unit circle must be used (in place of right-triangle based definitions), simply because no right triangles contain angles outside this range. The radius of the unit circle is 1, by definition, and that is the hypotenuse of the right triangle which exists in the zero-to-ninety degree part of the domain of the graph above. As a consequence of setting the length of the hypotenuse of each right triangle at 1, the side opposite the angle in question (used for persine) becomes, simply, the sine of that angle, while the adjacent leg’s length is the angle’s cosine. It then follows that the perimeter (the denominator of the pers, perc, and pert ratios) is equal to sin(x) + cos(x) + 1.
Calculations are shown on the graph above, and you can click on the graph to enlarge it, to make them more readable. In these calculations, one more adjustment had to be made, and that was to the perimeter portion of each pertrigonometric ratio. Using sin(x) + cos(x) + 1 works fine for perimeter, for the zero-to-ninety degree portion of the domain, but, outside that, negative numbers intrude, for values of sin(x) and/or cos(x). It is my contention that triangle perimeter only makes sense as a sum of absolute values of a triangle’s three side lengths. To obtain absolute values for both sin(x) and cos(x) in the perimeter-part of each calculation, then, I simply squared each of these two functions, and then took the square roots of those squares. The result of this can be seen on the graph, in the curve for the pertangent function, which resembles a child’s drawing of waves in the ocean. On the y-axis, it never reaches as low as 0.4, and its maximum value is clearly exactly 0.5 — at the sharp “wave peaks.” At the (smooth) troughs, the actual minimum is equal to the square root of two, minus one, or ~0.414, although I have not yet figured out exactly why that is the case — I simply noticed it on the graph — but, to investigate it further, I know where to look: the 45-45-90 triangle, since these minima are hit when x = (45 ± 90n) degrees, where n is any integer. The pertangent function has the shortest period of all the functions shown above, at a mere 90º. For tangent, by contrast, the period is 180º. All four of the other functions shown have periods of a full 360º.
It is striking that the pertangent and tangent curves bear little resemblance to each other, while marked resemblances do exist between the persine and sine curves, as well as between the percosine and cosine curves. In informal terms, the persine curve is a shorter and spikier (but still recognizable) version of the sine curve (vertically, with the amplitude exactly one-half as great for the shorter persine curve, relative to the sine curve), but, horizontally, the two curves are synchronized. The same relationship holds for the percosine and cosine curves. Also, it is well-known that the cosine curve is simply the sine curve, phase-shifted one-quarter cycle (or 90º, or π/2 radians) to the left. This phase-shift relationship between the cosine and sine curves holds, precisely, for the percosine and persine curves.
There is a simple reason why persine, percosine, and pertangent all peak at exactly y = ½. All three functions generalize, for acute angles, to this ratio — (some side of a right triangle)/(perimeter of that same triangle) — and no side of any triangle can ever exceed, nor even reach, half that same triangle’s perimeter. In all three cases, the maximum y-value is only reached, even in the zero-to-ninety degree portion of the domain, for “degenerate cases” — angles of 0º or 90º, which are, of course, not acute angles at all. Interpreted as triangles, these are cases where either a triangle becomes so short that it collapses to a single segment, or the opposite degenerate situation: two parallel lines, connected by a single segment. If you try to make either (or both) of the acute angles in a right triangle into an additional right angle, after all, that’s what you get.
To my knowledge, no one has described these pertrigonometric functions before, by this or any other name, although I could be wrong. (If I am wrong on this point, please let me know in a comment.) Regardless of whether this is their first appearance, or not, I did not invent them. The reason for this is simple: nothing in mathematics is ever “invented” — only discovered — for mathematics existed long before human beings existed, let alone started writing things down. How do I know this? Simple: there was a universe here before there were people, and all evidence indicates that it operated under the same laws of physics we observe today — and all evidence to date also indicates that those laws are mathematical in nature. Therefore, with the “pertrig” functions, I either discovered them, or, if they have been found before, then I independently rediscovered them.
Finally, I’ll address that question so often asked, about numerous things, in mathematics classes: what are these pertrigonometric functions used for? As far as I know, the answer in this case, so far, is absolutely nothing, other than delighting me by their very existence. It is possible that this may change, for someone might find a way to make a profitable application of these functions — and I won’t get any money if they do, either, for I am not copyrighting any of this. Nothing in mathematics is subject to ownership.
Honestly, though, I hope no one ever finds any practical, “real-world” use, at all, for pers, perc, or pert. Right now, they are pure mathematical ideas, unsullied by tawdry, real-world applications, and, well, I like that. I am far from the only person who ever had such an attitude about a mathematical idea, either — such views are actually fairly common in the mathematical community. Most of those who try to discover previously-unseen things in mathematics do so solely, or primarily, for one reason: the joy of discovery, in its purest form.
As a proposed new “near-miss” to the Johnson solids, I created this polyhedron using Stella 4d, which can be found for purchase, or trial download, here. To make it, I started with a tetrahedron, augmented each face with icosidodecahedra, created the convex hull of the resulting cluster of polyhedra, and then used Stella‘s “try to make faces regular” function, which worked well. What you see is the result.
This polyhedron has no name as of yet (suggestions are welcome), but does have tetrahedral symmetry, and fifty faces. Of those faces, the eight blue triangles are regular, although the four dark blue triangles are ~2.3% larger by edge length, and ~4.6% larger by area, when compared to the four light blue triangles. The twelve yellow triangles are isosceles, with their bases (adjacent to the pink quadrilaterals) ~1.5% longer than their legs, which are each adjacent to one of the twelve red, regular pentagons. These yellow isosceles trapezoids have vertex angles measuring 61.0154º. The six pink quadrilaterals themselves are rectangles, but just barely, with their longer sides only ~0.3% longer than their shorter sides — the shorter sides being those adjacent to the green quadrilaterals.
The twelve green quadrilaterals are trapezoids, and are the most irregular of the faces in this near-miss candidate. These trapezoids have ~90.992º base angles next to the light blue triangles, and ~89.008º angles next to the pink triangles. Their shortest side is the base shared with light blue triangles. The legs of these trapezoids are ~2.3% longer than this short base, and the long base is ~3.5% longer than the short base.
If this has been found before, I don’t know about it — but, if you do, please let me know in a comment.
UPDATE: It turns out that this polyhedron has, in fact, been found before. It’s called the “tetrahedrally expanded tetrated dodecahedron,” and is the second polyhedron shown on this page. I still don’t know who discovered it, but at least I did gather more information about it — the statistics which appear above, as well as a method for constructing it with Stella.
A few days ago, I found a new near-miss to the 92 Johnson Solids. It appears on this blog, five posts ago, and looks a lot like what you see above — the differences are subtle, and will be explained below, after “near-miss” has been clarified.
A near-miss is a polyhedron which is almost a Johnson Solid. So what’s a Johnson Solid?
Well, consider all possible convex polyhedra which have only regular polygons as faces. Remove from this set the five Platonic Solids:
Next, remove the thirteen Archimedean Solids:
Now remove the infinite sets of prisms and antiprisms, the beginning of which are shown here:
What’s left? The answer to this question is known; it’s the set of Johnson Solids. It has been proven that there are exactly 92 of them:
When Norman Johnson systematically found all of these, and named them, in the late 1960s, he found a number of other polyhedra which were extremely close to being in this set. These are called the “near misses.” An example of a near-miss is the tetrated dodecahedron, which I co-discovered, and named, about a decade ago:
If you go to http://www.software3d.com/Stella.php, you can download a free trial version of software, Stella 4d, written by a friend of mine, Robert Webb (RW), which I used to generate this last image, as well as the rotating .gif which starts this post. (The still pictures were simply found using Google image-searches.) Stella 4d has a built-in library of near-misses, including the tetrated dodecahedron . . . but it doesn’t have all of them.
Well, why not? The reason is simple: the near-misses have no precise definition. They are simply “almost,” but not quite, Johnson Solids. In the case of the tetrated dodecahedron, what keeps it from being a Johnson Solid is the edges where yellow triangles meet other yellow triangles. These edges must be ~7% longer than the other edges, so the yellow triangles, unlike the other faces, are not quite regular — merely close.
There is no way to justify an arbitrary rule for just how close a near-miss must be to “Johnsonhood” be considered an “official” near-miss, so mathematicians have made no such rule. Research to find more near-misses is ongoing, and, due to the “fuzziness” of the definition, may never stop.
My informal test for a proposed near-miss is simple: I show it to RW, and if he thinks it’s close enough to include in the near-miss library in Stella 4d, then it passes. This new one did, but not until RW found a way to improve it, using something I don’t really understand called a “spring model.” What you see at the top of this post is the result. Unlike in the previous version, the green decagons here are regular, but at the expense of regularity in the (former) blue squares, now near-squarish trapezoids, as well as the yellow hexagons. The pink hexagons are slightly irregular in both versions, and the red pentagons are regular in both.
I’m eagerly anticipating the release of the next version of Stella 4d, for this near-miss will be in it. If I tell my students about this new discovery, they’ll want to know how much I got paid for it, which is, of course, nothing. I don’t know how to explain to them what it feels like to participate in the discovery of something — anything — which will survive me by a very long time. There’s nothing else quite like that feeling.
Now I just need to think of a good name for this thing!
[Update: the new version of Stella is now out, and this polyhedron is now included in it. As it turns out, I no longer need to think of a name for this polyhedron, for RW took care of that for me, naming it the “zonish truncated icosahedron” in Stella‘s built-in library of polyhedra.]