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What is geodesic dome math?

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Quick Answer

Geodesic dome math is a branch of geometry with real-world applications, especially in construction and architecture. A geodesic dome is a type of structure composed of a network of flat surfaces, specifically triangles, to produce a close approximation to a sphere or hemisphere.

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Full Answer

A geodesic line joins two points on a sphere with the shortest possible distance between them; and a geodesic dome is created from a lattice of geodesic lines that intersect to cover the curved surface with triangles. The more triangles there are, the more complex the network, and hence the more closely the dome approximates the actual shape of a sphere. Each member of the structure contributes equally to the whole. This makes geodesic domes lightweight yet strong, self-bracing structures that use very little material and are ideal for construction.

A geodesic dome is constructed from multiple icosahedrons, which are a type of polyhedron or three-dimensional solid with many flat faces. Each icosahedron has 20 flat equilateral triangles. By dividing each edge of each equilateral triangle into smaller triangles and rotating those edges towards the center of an imaginary sphere, a fair approximation of the curved surface of a sphere is obtained. The geometrical combination of triangles and dome is what gives strength to the structure.

Engineers use geodesic dome math when constructing auditoriums, churches, military radar systems and weather equipment. It is especially useful for building durable, low-cost houses in poor countries and in areas prone to hurricanes, earthquakes and fires.

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