Sunday, 25 January 2015

Cardboard Planets

I have to be a little careful here so I don't start trying to work out what a planet-sized piece of cardboard would be like.  On reflection I think it would contain a lot of diamonds, but now I must stop.

Feel free to peruse the following model:

This is a rather poorly constructed icosahedral "globe" of this planet.  It was made from this:

Now, I'd be the first to say that I'm not exactly the most dextrous trup on Yom, but at that point people would probably get annoyed and so instead I'll just say I'm not exactly the most practical person in the world, and consequently the icosahedral globe in the top picture is a bit of a mess.  However, there are other reasons for this.  One of them is that it's rather small and therefore fiddly.  Another is that if you look at the lower picture, it turns out that three of the faces are in bits, so they have to be stuck together and should lie flat but obviously won't. Also, the sea is exactly the wrong shade of pink, but this is because I've run out of printer ink (that almost rhymes!) and couldn't risk doing it in blue.

So, you may well ask why I'm making icosahedral globes of the planet.  If you are, I can only assume you haven't been involved in many role-playing games.  If you have, you're probably aware that an icosahedron  is a fairly good approximation to a sphere.  Mands will 'splain (hopefully not mansplain):

A map is an attempt to represent a curved surface on a flat one.  This is impossible to do perfectly because things will always be squashed or stretched out of shape or the directions between them will change.  In a small area this is less important, but at planetary level it becomes a major problem.  Therefore, the closer your shape is to a sphere the better as far as your map is concerned.

The map above is problematic because it's small and has broken faces.  It would be better if it consisted of ten pairs of triangles, each on an A4 sheet of card, which could be cut out and turned into a globe of sorts, which, being bigger, is less fiddly to put together.

I initially thought of doing this with dodecahedra as it would be slightly more accurate but have now decided that they're too fiddly.

I would call ten sheets of card each with two equilateral triangles on it a booklet.  I also now have the scale for the largest planet in the solar system with an easily accessible solid surface, or at least partly solid.  Another ten sheets would represent Venus to the same scale, another five Mars and another five Mercury.  Cynthia would probably only need three.  Then there are the largest asteroids, the four giant moons of Jupiter and ... well, you get the picture.

The smallest roughly spherical celestial body in the Solar System is Mimas, which has a diameter of I think 410 km.  A bit less.

So this is my plan:  make icosahedral flat scale models of every round celestial body in the Solar System, possibly some others in other shapes, print them on cards, one sided, A4, and make it into a book and sell it.  And then everyone will say it's marvellous and not bother to buy it, because that's how my life works.