8 Mind Blowing Facts About Shapes

Quick — what day is Shape Appreciation Day? If you guessed October 22nd, you would be dead wrong. The reality of the situation is that it was a trick question. There is no Shape Appreciation Day. But wouldn’t it be weird if there were? Frankly, isn’t it equally weird that there isn’t? Everything has a shape. A circle is circle-shaped. A blobfish is in the shape of a blobfish. Even you have a shape! Shapes are completely and ridiculously underrated as things. We need to spend less time on Twitter and more time sitting on a chair and contemplating shapes like they no doubt were doing 100 years ago when there was nothing else to do! In honor of shapes, here is a list of 8 facts you probably didn’t know about them.

8. We make up new shapes

Life can be boring sometimes. But if you spend your time inventing new shapes like a group of Harvard scientists did, it opens your world to new and exciting possibilities. Presenting the hemihelix. Here’s its story: like most inventions, it was a happy accident. When attempting to create helix-shaped rubber springs for a different project, the Harvard team instead came up with the hemihelix. Here’s how you can make one yourself. Step 1: Find yourself a phone cord. Oh, those aren’t really a thing anymore? Then I guess we’ll just have to leave you hanging. Sorry about that. 

7. The circle has an imposter!

Name two perfectly round 2D shapes. If you said “the 257-gon and…not sure about the other one” you are simultaneously Albert Einstein and Forrest Gump. The rest of us would have guessed “circle” without having any clue that 257-gons exist. In a nutshell, a 257-gon is a polygon with 257 sides of equal length and angles, which is precisely the number needed to create a shape that resembles a perfect circle. You’ll never see circles the same way again!

6. Squircles aren’t what you think they are

If you have never heard of a squircle before, it’s safe to say you have no idea what it is. But if you think you know, we’re here to tell you that you’re sadly mistaken. Fortunately, we’re here to educate you. Contrary to popular belief, a squircle — which is a circle/square hybrid — is not the same thing as a rounded square. Squircles have smooth, circular edges while rounded squares have a squarish edge. Confused? We’ll explain in terms you can definitely understand. The first 6 generations of iPhones were rounded squares while the iOS 7 and everything since are squircles. Now we’re speaking your language!

5. We’re still discovering new shapes

When you look at a giraffe, you intuitively know that it’s giraffe-shaped. Or if you’re one of those outside-the-box types, you call it a “horse-shaped animal with excessively long legs and neck.” But not every shape can immediately be identified, especially if they have a complex, geometry element to them. This is what makes July 27, 2018 so special. Indeed, the world would never be the same again when the scutoid was discovered. What on Earth is that? Just something created in a lab by a bunch of confused Harvard scientists like the hemihelix? No, sir/ma’am!  This irregular eight-faced, 3-dimensional shape is found naturally in the curvy part of human organs. So there you go. Life sure is full of surprises, right?

4. 4D shapes are truly bizarre 

You can draw a 2D square on a piece of paper. You can put objects in a 3D cube-shaped box. But what does a tesseract feel like and, most importantly, taste like? We may never know since the tesseract — what the 3D cube becomes when it is 4D — is purely hypothetical. Here’s the best way to conceptualize it: a cube has six faces made up of six squares. Agreed? Now imagine if each of those square faces was a cube on its own. Presto. You’ve got yourself a tesseract. Six cubes in a cube. But since it is impossible for us to perceive things in 4D, we are just left to imagine how delicious it must be. 

3. Perfect spheres don’t exist in nature

If the distance between an object’s center and its curved surface is the same throughout, you’ve got yourself a sphere. So if you’re a basketball, congratulations. You pass the spherical test. But the planets, moon and stars do not meet the definition of a sphere since they are always flatter at their poles and wider at their equators. Thanks, gravity. 

2. That triangle-shaped pizza slice isn’t really a triangle

Did this fact just ruin your day? We hope not. But it’s time you learned the truth. Here’s the situation: a pizza is typically round since that’s the easiest way to bake the dough that becomes your future pizza. When you cut the pizza into slices, the crust remains curved. But by its very definition, a triangle must contain three straight sides. So technically the pizza slice is shaped like a circular sector. But please don’t point this dorky fact out next time you have a pizza party. Unless you want the party to end prematurely. And maybe you do! 

1. Paper isn’t actually shaped like a rectangle

Raise your hand if you think paper is shaped like a rectangle. If your hand isn’t up, it’s because you read this paragraph in reverse and therefore already knew the spoiler by the time you read the first sentence. The rectangle only exists as a two-dimensional shape. But a sheet of paper — like everything in real life — is three-dimensional. Sure, paper is so thin that you wouldn’t be able to notice this with the human eye, but it nonetheless has depth equal to 1/10th of a millimeter (0.0039 inches), thus making it a cuboid, what a rectangle becomes in 3D. 



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