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The five Platonic solids

The five Platonic solids

V600/0042

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The five Platonic solids. Historical engraving from Davisson's Philosophia Pyrotechnia (Paris, 1642) of the five Platonic solids, to illustrate early ideas on chemical elements. A Platonic solid is a polyhedron all of whose faces are coinciding regular polygons and where the same number of faces meet at every point. They are, clockwise from upper left, a hexahedron (cube), tetrahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron and octahedron. Early ideas on chemical elements saw them as qualities (hotness, dryness, fieriness, oiliness, earthi- ness) rather than as real substances. They were also mystically linked with the five planets then known, and with the five Platonic solids.

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