Pentagon

Pentagon

[pen-tuh-gon]
Pentagon, the, building accommodating the U.S. Dept. of Defense. Located in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the Pentagon is a vast five-sided building designed by Los Angeles architect G. Edwin Bergstrom. It consists of five concentric pentagons connected to each other by corridors and covering an area of 34 acres (13.8 hectares). Completed in 1943, it was intended to consolidate the various offices of the U.S. War Dept., now the Dept. of Defense. One side of the vast building was damaged by a terrorist attack (Sept. 11, 2001) in which a hijacked airplane was intentionally crashed into the Pentagon. As a result of the crash and subsequent fire 189 people were killed, including the passengers and crew of the jetliner. The attack was coordinated with a similar one on the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

See S. Vogel, The Pentagon: A History (2007).

Secret documents detailing the U.S. role in Indochina from World War II to 1968. The U.S. Defense Department commissioned the study; a project associate, Daniel Ellsberg, who was opposed to U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, leaked details of the documents to the press. In June 1971 The New York Times began publishing articles based on the study. The U.S. Justice Department, citing national security, obtained a temporary court order halting publication. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government had failed to justify restraint of publication, and the documents were published widely, fueling debate over the country's Vietnam policy.

Learn more about Pentagon Papers with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Regular pentagon

A regular pentagon, {5}
Edges and vertices 5
Schläfli symbol {5}
Coxeter–Dynkin diagram - Symmetry group Dihedral (D5)
Area
(with t=edge length)
frac{{t^2 sqrt {25 + 10sqrt 5 } }}{4}
approx 1.720477401,t^2.
Internal angle
(degrees)
108°

In geometry, a pentagon is any five-sided polygon. A pentagon may be simple or self-intersecting. The internal angles in a simple pentagon total 540°.

Regular pentagons

The term pentagon is commonly used to mean a regular convex pentagon, where all sides are equal and all interior angles are equal (to 108°). Its Schläfli symbol is {5}.

The area of a regular convex pentagon with side length t is given by A = frac{{t^2 sqrt {25 + 10sqrt 5 } }}{4} = frac{5t^2 cdot tan(54^circ)}{4} approx 1.720477401,t^2.

A pentagram is a regular star pentagon. Its Schläfli symbol is {5/2}. Its sides form the diagonals of a regular convex pentagon - in this arrangement the sides of the two pentagons are in the golden ratio.

When a regular pentagon is inscribed in a circle with radius R, its edge length t is given by the expression t = R {sqrt { frac {5-sqrt{5}}{2}} } approx 1.17557050458 R.

Construction

A regular pentagon is constructible using a compass and straightedge, either by inscribing one in a given circle or constructing one on a given edge. This process was described by Euclid in his Elements circa 300 BC.

One method to construct a regular pentagon in a given circle is as follows:

An alternative method is this:

  1. Draw a circle in which to inscribe the pentagon and mark the center point O. (This is the green circle in the diagram to the right).
  2. Choose a point A on the circle that will serve as one vertex of the pentagon. Draw a line through O and A.
  3. Construct a line perpendicular to the line OA passing through O. Mark its intersection with one side of the circle as the point B.
  4. Construct the point C as the midpoint of O and B.
  5. Draw a circle centered at C through the point A. Mark its intersection with the line OB (inside the original circle) as the point D.
  6. Draw a circle centered at A through the point D. Mark its intersections with the original (green) circle as the points E and F.
  7. Draw a circle centered at E through the point A. Mark its other intersection with the original circle as the point G.
  8. Draw a circle centered at F through the point A. Mark its other intersection with the original circle as the point H.
  9. Construct the regular pentagon AEGHF.

After forming a regular convex pentagon, if you join the non-adjacent corners (drawing the diagonals of the pentagon), you obtain a pentagram, with a smaller regular pentagon in the center. Or if you extend the sides until the non-adjacent ones meet, you obtain a larger pentagram.

A simple method of creating a regular pentagon from just a strip of paper is by tying an overhand knot into the strip and carefully flattening the knot by pulling the ends of the paper strip. Folding one of the ends back over the pentagon will reveal a pentagram when backlit.

Pentagons in nature

See also

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