How Many Sides Does a Cube Have?

Magic Cube 1976725 1280 Credit: Congerdesign/Pixabay

Every cube has six equal sides. These are also known as faces or facets. Each cube has one face at the top, one at the bottom, and four around the sides. Dice are examples of cubes, with each of the six sides having a number on it from one through six.

A cube is three-dimensional. It has 12 edges that are joined together by eight vertices, which are at the corners of the cube. Three sides meet at every vertex. A cube is a hexahedron, meaning it has six faces. It's also a regular hexahedron, which means all six sides are equal is size. A cube is the only regular hexahedron. 

A cube is also a platonic solid. Read on to find out what that means and where cubes are found in everyday life, architecture, art and nature.

What Is a Platonic Solid?

A platonic solid is a three-dimensional shape whose faces are polygons that have equal sides. There are five types of platonic solids:

  • The tetrahedron (pyramid) has three faces.
  • The hexahedron (cube) has four faces.
  • The octahedron has five faces.
  • The dodecahedron has 12 faces.
  • The icosahedron has 20 faces.

All platonic solids are regular, meaning they have equal sides and angles, and each one has an equal amount of sides meeting at every vertex. Each polygonal side is congruent, meaning the size and shape of every side is identical.

Platonic solids were given their name because of the studies of philosopher Plato. He attributed the shapes to fire, earth, air, water and the heavens and based his theory about the universe on them. The cube, according to Plato, was assigned to the earth because of its four-square regularity, according to Britannica.

Everyday Cubes

You see cubes around you every day. You put sugar cubes in your hot drinks and ice cubes in drinks to make them colder. Some tissue boxes are cube-shaped as are some ornamental planters and ottomans. Babies and toddlers learn motor skills when they play with cube-shaped building blocks.

A famous cube is the Rubik’s cube. Kids and adults alike love this cube-shaped puzzle. It was invented by a Hungarian professor of architecture named Ernõ Rubik in 1974. The Magic Cube, as Rubik first called it, is comprised of smaller cubes, and each side of the main cube displays nine colored squares. What started out as a movable prototype to help his architecture students soon became a bestselling toy, leading to world championships in solving the puzzle, spin-off products and speedcubing. 

Cubes in Architecture

The regular, symmetrical shape of a cube makes it easy to build with. Architects consider the geometrical design to be a sign of perfection when it comes to structures. Many famous buildings have been designed in the shape of cubes.

The Mirrorcube is actually a hotel built in the trees in Sweden. The mirrored walls camouflage the accommodation amid its surroundings.

The Apple Cube is the iconic glass cube entrance to Apple’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue, New York City. Once you’ve entered the striking glass entrance, a spiral staircase leads you down into the store.

In Lyon, France, the Orange Cube sits on the bank of the river, housing offices inside its intriguing design. With giant-sized voids in the sides of the building, it almost looks as though someone has taken a bite or two from it.

Cubes in Art

In the early 20th century, a revolutionary art movement called cubism was introduced by the artists George Braque and Pablo Picasso. The subject matter was comprised of cubes and various other geometrical shapes rather than being a true-to-life copy of what was seen. It led the way for abstract art and inspired creative art movements in the future, such as surrealism and futurism.

For display purposes in galleries and museums, the "white cube" is recognized for being the best surrounding to showcase artworks. The white, square walls prevent your eyes from being distracted from the artwork hanging on them, helping to highlight the colors and details within them.

Drawing cubes also helps with perspective in art and can make it easier to draw some items, such as figures. Artists also use cubes in artwork to draw the viewer’s eye to a particular detail, such as light, shadow, colors or materials used.

Cubes in Nature

It may seem strange to think of cubes naturally occurring in nature due to their geometrical shape and rigid lines. Yet cubes in nature do exist.

A mineral called pyrite is made of cuboidal crystals that result from two sulfur atoms bonding with an iron atom. Halite crystals are cubic too, and you’ll know this mineral better as rock salt.

Possibly the most unusual example of cubes in nature is wombat poop. Wombats have incredibly dry feces due to their habitat. It’s believed this helps keep the cube structure intact when excreted, having been molded into a cube shape at the end of the intestinal tract.