Thursday, May 16, 2013

Honey and Hexagon

My precious...
I saw this article on my Twitter after I sneezed due to allergies. I took that as a sign to write about this blog post by Robert Krulwich. The title of the post is "What is it About Bees and Hexagons?" So, why do bees make their honey combs into perfect hexagons? What is the advantage behind this? Krulwich starts by presenting a conjecture developed by Marcus Terentius Varro, which says that the hexagon provides the maximum volume to hold honey while at the same time requiring the least amount of wax to make the honeycomb. It wasn't until 1999, a mathematician at the University of Michigan by the name of Thomas Hales published a proof to show that Varro was exactly correct in his logic. Warning: If you choose to read the proof, it is 22 pages of math, although it is quite interesting.

Another observation that was made on the YouTube video that is in the article was that the size of the honeycombs are about the size of the bee. Apparently, the size of the honeycomb is proportional to the size of the bee. I thought that this was an interesting observation.

On a last note, for those of you who actually read this article, may I bring your attention to the credits on the hand-drawn pictures. I found it amusing and a little amazed that the pictures are by Krulwich. Nice pics, Krulwich! ;-)

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