Subscribe
Subscribe
MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
Logo IMG
HOME > PAST ISSUE > March-April 1998 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Mathematics and Tensegrity

Group and representation theory make it possible to form a complete catalogue of "strut-cable" constructions with prescribed symmetries

Figure 9.  Super stable tensegritiesClick to Enlarge Image

Tensegrity, a coined word describing a structure that retains its integrity under tension, is a concept developed by the American sculptor, Kenneth Snelson. The wonder and beauty of Snelson's sculptures surely lie in their three-dimensional nature. But these assemblies also pose interesting and difficult questions for mathematicians. Mathematically, what is a tensgrity? Why is it stable? Can tensegrities be classified or listed? The authors' recent work has aimed to find a proper three-dimensional generalization for tensegrities. Using the mathematical tools of group theory and representation theory, coupled with the powerful graphic and computational capabilities of computers, they have drawn up a complete catalogue of tensegrities with certain prescribed types of stability and symmetry, including some that have never been seen before.


 Go to Article


comments powered by Disqus
 

EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Of Possible Interest

Computing Science: Clarity in Climate Modeling

Feature Article: Candy Crush's Puzzling Mathematics

Spotlight: Briefings

Subscribe to American Scientist