A coffee table about geometry

I found this blog post, from the Makezine Blog using StumbleUpon (if you haven’t explored StumbleUpon, it’s great. Anyway…) This quote from George Hart is the opener of the article:

If you make a coffee table that express a mathematical idea and place it right in the middle of your living room, that certainly makes a statement to all who visit that math is central in your life.

Students may not be able to identify with math being central in anyone’s life, but the coffee table is still kind of a cool idea. A simple square coffee table (shown below) is built with cuts and hinges. (For my students who know not to trust the picture, the post states that it is a square, so that is a given.)




If the owner so chooses, the coffee table can be turned into a triangular shape (shown below).



So, the question becomes, what math can we do with this? What questions are there to ask? Of course, how could we answer those questions?

The first two questions that I have are based on the function of the coffee table. Which shape maximizes the number of people who can sit around it? Which shape maximizes the amount of stuff you can put on it?

How could we answer these questions? Are there other questions we can ask?

Post your ideas in the comments.

2 thoughts on “A coffee table about geometry

  1. I wanna know if the two have the same area.

    And I want to see a frontal shot of this bad boy. Does it have legs? I suppose I could click on the link…

  2. OK. So I just clicked on the link and the leggy structure of this thing is way cooler than I had hoped for. And that suggests the next question…What is the optimal placement for the legs?

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