Adam Arstall, Briony Thomas, Motiejus Valiunas and Emilio Zappa

Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford; School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds; Faculty of Mathematics, University of Cambridge; School of Mathematics and YCCSA, University of York
UK
Briony Thomas is an academic and designer working in the area of shape-based design, with a specialism in geometric structure. Her current practice explores cross-disciplinary concepts in structural/mechanical design and complex biological systems.

In collaboration with the Twarock group (University of York), and mathematicians Emilio Zappa (University of York), Motiejus Valiunas (University of Cambridge) and Adam Arstall (University of Oxford), this project explored the mathematical and artistic complexities of virus structure. The work was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) and York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA).
Shadows from Six Dimensions
00:06:03
Produced by Adam Arstall, Briony Thomas, Motiejus Valiunas and Emilio Zappa. Supported by the University of York, the University of Leeds, the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) and York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA).
2015
From images under the microscope, the visualisation of a journey into the structure and geometry of viruses evolved. ‘Shadows from Six Dimensions’ visualises nested and expandable polyhedra that provide new insights into viral architecture and the process of maturation and infection.

A new class of polyhedra, obtained from projection from 6D, are constructed as nested shells to model the 3D organisation of two viruses, Pariacoto and MS2. Expandable polyhedra are then used as the basis for modelling of the expansion of the ERAV virus and shown to represent the asymmetric structural transition pathway of a dodecahedral viral capsid.

The movie results from an interdisciplinary collaboration between mathematics, biology and design. It illustrates the crucial role mathematics plays in understanding the structure of viruses, and the importance of collaboration across traditional subject boundaries in our advancing our understanding of these fascinating yet deadly organisms.