Henry Segerman and Rosa Zwier

Assistant Professor (HS); Informal Education (RZ)
Oklahoma State University (HS); Independent (RZ)
Stillwater, OK, USA (HS); Melbourne, VIC, AUS (RZ)

Henry Segerman is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Oklahoma State University. His mathematical research is in 3-dimensional geometry and topology, and concepts from those areas often appear in his work. Other artistic interests involve procedural generation, self reference, ambigrams and puzzles.

Rosa Zwier completed a Bachelor of Science with a major in Pure Mathematics at the University of Melbourne last year. She came to love geometry after discovering spherical magnets and the amazing possibilities of what can be built with them. She has since been introduced to the world of mathematical art and has become passionate about it.

"Buckyball" Buckyball
"Buckyball" Buckyball
3 cm x 3 cm x 3 cm
PA 2200 Plastic, Selective-Laser-Sintered and Spherical Neodymium Magnets

Spherical magnets, sometimes sold under the name "Buckyballs", are used to build all sorts of geometric and mathematical objects. Ironically, nobody seems to be able to build the shape after which they are named - the buckyball (truncated icosahedron). To be precise, we require that there be one magnet for each vertex, and two magnets touching for each edge of the polyhedron.

This piece was created after we asked the larger question - what can and cannot be built with spherical magnets? The truncated icosahedron seemed viable given the right choice of directions of polarity, but was very unstable. So we decided to cheat: using 3D printing to make a frame around which to build the shape. With difficulty, it becomes possible to build.