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Publication# On Sphere-Filling Ropes

Abstract

What is the longest rope on the unit sphere? Intuition tells us that the answer to this packing problem depends on the rope's thickness. For a countably infinite number of prescribed thickness values we construct and classify all solution curves. The simplest ones are similar to the seam lines of a tennis ball; others exhibit a striking resemblance to Turing patterns in chemistry, or to ordered phases of long elastic rods stuffed into spherical shells.

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Sphere

A sphere () is a geometrical object that is a three-dimensional analogue to a two-dimensional circle. Formally, a sphere is the set of points that are all at the same distance r from a given point in three-dimensional space. That given point is the centre of the sphere, and r is the sphere's radius. The earliest known mentions of spheres appear in the work of the ancient Greek mathematicians. The sphere is a fundamental object in many fields of mathematics. Spheres and nearly-spherical shapes also appear in nature and industry.

Countable set

In mathematics, a set is countable if either it is finite or it can be made in one to one correspondence with the set of natural numbers. Equivalently, a set is countable if there exists an injective function from it into the natural numbers; this means that each element in the set may be associated to a unique natural number, or that the elements of the set can be counted one at a time, although the counting may never finish due to an infinite number of elements.

Infinite set

In set theory, an infinite set is a set that is not a finite set. Infinite sets may be countable or uncountable. The set of natural numbers (whose existence is postulated by the axiom of infinity) is infinite. It is the only set that is directly required by the axioms to be infinite. The existence of any other infinite set can be proved in Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory (ZFC), but only by showing that it follows from the existence of the natural numbers.

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