A tale of touching tubes

Mathematicians find way to put seven cylinders in contact without using their ends

By Dana Mackenzie, 16:12 PM April 2, 2014

ATLANTA — Over 50 years ago, the popular mathematics writer Martin Gardner and readers of Scientific American pondered a challenge: Can you place seven cigarettes so that each cigarette touches every one of the others?

Gardner had a solution, but it was unsatisfying because some of the cigarettes’ ends touched others’ sides. If that end of a cigarette were lit, it would no longer touch its neighbor. Mathematicians wondered whether an arrangement could be found with only side-to-side contacts u...

Source URL: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/tale-touching-tubes?mode=magazine&context=188379