Bending a Soccer Ball

By Ivars Peterson, 15:55 PM April 15, 2008

Since about 1970, soccer balls have been stitched or glued together from 32 patches of material—12 of them five-sided and 20 of them six-sided. These patches are arranged so that each pentagon is surrounded by hexagons. Traditionally, the pentagons are colored black and the hexagons white.

This soccer ball is modeled on a geometric shape called a truncated icosahedron, which has 60 vertices. Its polygonal faces, however, are curved rather than flat so that the ball is roughly spherical.


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