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Illustration of the five Platonic solids

Illustration of the five Platonic solids

C038/7003

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Credit

MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Illustration of the five Platonic solids. The Platonic, or Pythagorean, solids, are geometrical forms made up of identical faces, with identical edge lengths. When placed inside a sphere of appropriate size, each vertex just touches the interior surface of the sphere. Only five solids are known to have these properties. From left to right they are the icosahedron (20 equilateral triangular faces), the dodecahedron (twelve hexagonal faces), the octahedron (eight equilateral triangular faces), the cube (six square faces) and the tetrahedron (four equilateral triangular faces). In ancient Greece, these perfect shapes represented the five natural elements thought to make up the universe; water, aether (or ether) air, earth and fire.

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