Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for . . .

This month I'm posting Mad-Cool-Math Nuggets.

S is for Sphere Inversion. I got the idea for this blog from 5 Seriously Mind-Boggling Math Facts on the site Live Science.

Here's the question: Can you turn a sphere inside out without tearing it and will the result still be a sphere?

The answer is yes, and here is a YouTube video from UnexpectedLogin showing what that would look like:

Kind of like watching a lava lamp isn't it? The cool part? According to the Live Science article, the person who proved this, topologist Bernard Morin, was blind.

What's topology, you ask? It involves the mathematical study of shapes and the properties of space that are preserved by stretching and bending, but not tearing or gluing. (Wikipedia.) So for the sphere inversion above, it had to be done without tearing the sphere or poking a hole in it.

Ever heard of topology? Like lava lamps?

Yesterday, I blogged about Benford's Law and how in a seemingly random group of numbers, the first digit is more likely to be a 1, then a 2, and so on. In our very small collection of data we got the numbers: 148, 1809, 239, 306, and 7. So that seems to hold! (Kinda, sort of, maybe).


I got an email from my editor and it looks like I'll be doing one more freebie this month from 4/24 until 4/27. Stop by for details on Friday. Or tomorrow, because I be babbling, rambling, and being quite silly on tangents.


  1. All I can say is if I tried to turn a sphere inside out, it would break faster than the heart of the latest Bachelor contestants...

    Me no so good with things that take time and patience...

    I do like lava lamps, though... they can be fascinating :)

  2. That is really cool! And I feel smart because I said it could happen. ;)

    And now I wish I had a lava lamp to watch. :P

  3. That's really cool! And really fascinating that the person who proved it was blind.

  4. I just love anything dealing with science or math, even though I understand little of it... lol. But I agree, it is fascinating that the man who proved this was blind. And yes, I love lava lamps! had one as a child.

  5. This is so cool. You broke my brain, but that's okay, they say brains are plastic. Maybe we can stretch and invert it back together.

    This reminds me of a mobius strip...

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy A to Z , now to break my brain more. - Jeri (

  6. Topology is difficult, one of the really challenging branches of math. One of the classical topology objects is the Mobius strip, which is a one-sided surface. That's cool >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  7. I've just watched several of these -my very fave some very young fella explaing the 4th dimension. Wow!

  8. Wow, can't wait to talk about this with my mates in the pub - they'll be well impressed! Until you appeared on my radar I never realised mathematics could be as interesting.

  9. I've just watched several of these -my very fave some very young fella explaing the 4th dimension. Wow!

  10. I had a lava lamp in my bedroom as a teen. They had a real resurgence in the 90s. And I don't know anything about topology, so this is great.

  11. Yeah, you'd have to either move into the fourth dimension or let the surface of the sphere pass through itself for this to work, right? Pretty cool anyway.

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  12. I love the turning the sphere inside out without tearing it. That's pretty cool. but doesn't this sort of mean that we should be able to turn balloons inside out? I might have to research this.

  13. So cool. I did not realize that was possible.

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

  14. I haven't heard of this, but I'm not big on math. It sounds cool.

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