Unveiling of first good rendering of a 4-dimensional object set for 21 October

October 17, 2005

The Penn State Department of Mathematics will host an open house of its extensively renovated McAllister Building, featuring a dedication ceremony for a unique sculpture with deep mathematical significance on 21 October 2005 at the Penn State University Park campus. The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. with a ceremony to dedicate the "Octacube" sculpture in the first-floor atrium of McAllister Building, followed by an opportunity for participants to explore the renovated building until 5:00 p.m. No good rendering of any 4-dimensional object existed anywhere in the world before the Octacube, either in solid or virtual form, according to Adrian Ocneanu, the Penn State professor of mathematicians who designed the sculpture.

In addition to the events on 21 October, the mathematics department will host a mathematical talk on 20 October at 4:00 p.m. and a talk for the general public on 26 October at 6:00 p.m. All three events will take place in the atrium near the sculpture, will feature 4-dimensional movies, and will be open to the public at no charge.

The sculpture is a gift from Jill Grashof Anderson, a mathematics alumna of Penn State as a memorial for her husband, Kermit C. Anderson, also a Penn State mathematics graduate, who was killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September 2001. The dedication ceremony for the sculpture will include an explanation of its mathematical meaning by its designer, Adrian Ocneanu, professor of mathematics. The stainless-steel Octacube is a striking object of visual art and also a mental portal to the fourth dimension, a teaching tool, and a research object bringing together many branches of mathematics and physics connected to the structure of symmetry.

The sculpture, which measures about six feet in every direction, presents the three-dimensional "shadow" of a four-dimensional solid object. "Although mathematicians can work with a fourth dimension abstractly by adding a fourth coordinate to the three that we use to describe a point in space, a fourth spatial dimension is difficult to visualize," Ocneanu explains. "The sculpture was designed with a new method which captures four dimensional symmetry better than anything done before."

The Octacube was produced by the staff of the Engineering Services Shop, managed by Jerry Anderson. "It is rare that we get a chance to produce something so extraordinary for people to enjoy," Jerry Anderson says. "The Octacube demonstrates the high level of skill and craftsmanship of the Penn State people who transformed it from a design to an object, including Janet Page, James Kustenborder, Ronald Weaver, Brian Bennett, Dennis Praskovich, Thomas Coakley, Thomas Rimmey and Lee Brooks."

Jill Grashof Anderson says she hopes the sculpture will encourage students, faculty, administrators, alumnae, and friends to ponder and appreciate the world of mathematics. "I also hope that all who view the sculpture will begin to grasp the sobering fact that everyone is vulnerable to something terrible happening to them and that we all must learn to live one day at a time, making the very best of what has been given to us." She adds, "It would be great if everyone who views the Octacube walks away with the feeling that being kind to others is a good way to live."
More information about the Octacube sculpture, including a feature story, images, and a movie, is on the web at http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/math10-2005.htm

Jill Grashof Anderson can be reached via Suzanne Grieb at sds6@psu.edu or 814-863-4683.
Adrian Ocneanu: 814-865-4061, adrian@math.psu.edu
Jerry Anderson: 814-865-4963, janderson@engr.psu.edu

Penn State

Related Mathematics Articles from Brightsurf:

A new method for boosting the learning of mathematics
How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?
Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows
Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics
Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function
Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing
New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics
For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics
Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics
Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored
Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.