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The Subtleties of Space Filling Book Review by Robert V. Moody, University of Alberta

Summary: The Subtleties of Space Filling
Book Review by Robert V. Moody, University of Alberta
The Pursuit of Pefect Packing
by Tomaso Aste & Denis Weaire
Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol and Philadelphia, 2000
Given that we are all born and live out our lives in a 3-dimensional world, it
is incredible how little we know about it. The number of tantalizingly easy-
to-state impossibly-hard-to-solve problems around filling space with similarly
shaped objects of various types is probably on a par with the famous puzzles of
number theory. Yet packing problems have never had the mystique nor the avid
following of number theory. It is for certain that there is no correspondingly
elegant theory or canon of sophisticated techniques and ideas. Is this our failure
of intuition or is it that these problems are intrinsically less ordered and harder?
What space filling loses in the way of theory it gains in its colourful his-
tory. Nature abounds in space filling devices, and from ancient times to the
present these have caught the imaginations of scientists, mathematicians, and
To quote the authors of the Pursuit of Perfect Packing:
"The history of ideas about packing is peopled by many eminent and colour-
ful characters. An English reverend gentleman is remembered for his experi-


Source: Aste, Tomaso - Department of Applied Mathematics, Australian National University


Collections: Physics