Consider a polyhedral surface in three-space that has the property that it can change its shape while keeping all its polygonal faces congruent. Adjacent faces are allowed to rotate along common edges. Mathematically exact flexible surfaces were found by Connelly in 1978. But the question remained as to whether the volume bounded by such surfaces was necessarily constant during the flex. In other words, is there a mathematically perfect bellows that actually will exhale and inhale as it flexes? For the known examples, the volume did remain constant. Following an idea of Sabitov, but using the theory of places in algebraic geometry (suggested by Steve Chase), Connelly et al. showed that there is no perfect mathematical bellows. All flexible surfaces must flex with constant volume. We built several models to illustrate the above theory, in particular, we built a model of the cubeoctahedron after a suggestion by Walser. This model is cut at a line of symmetry, pops up to minimize its energy stored by 4 rubber bands in its interior, and in doing so also maximizes its volume. Three MATLAB programs were written to illustrate how the cuboctahedron is obtained by truncation, how the physical cuboctahedron moves and how the motion of the cubeoctahedron can be described if self-intersection is possible.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
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Eshaq, Hassan, "Polyhedral Models" (2002). Masters Theses (All Theses, All Years). 1185.
Polyhedron, rigid motion, animation, Polyhedra, Models