Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane

Cabinet: Issue 16 Winter 2004 

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane: An Interview with David Henderson and Daina Taimina by Margaret Wertheim 

Until the 19th century, mathematicians knew about only two kinds of geometry: the Euclidean plane and the sphere. It was therefore a deep shock to their community to find that there existed in principle a completely other spatial structure whose existence was discerned only by overturning a 2000-year-old prejudice about “parallel” lines. The discovery of hyperbolic space in the 1820s and 1830s by the Hungarian mathematician Janos Bolyai and the Russian mathematician Nicholay Lobatchevsky marked a turning point in mathematics and initiated the formal field of non-Euclidean geometry. For more than a century, mathematicians searched in vain for a physical surface with hyperbolic geometry…

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