The Implosive Fairy Tale of the Basketball and the Soccer Ball
Much appreciation for bringing forth your inner and outer takes on the Outer and Inner Pendulum meditations.
It inspired me to get back to "belaboring the obvious," or "metamorphosing the given" --- as Georg Kuehlewind would say ---to pick up on things I missed before about the soccer ball meditation and the Fatman fuse.
So the first question that came to me was: "What is the difference between a soccer ball and a basketball, and why?"
This question is raised by contemplating the very first meeting of the minds on the Manhattan Project, including Elizabeth Boggs, when they were to work on the beast shape for the implosion needed to compress the plutonium core.
Whoever introduced the subject said something like: "Well, we need a perfect spherical symmetry in order to implode this core. So why not start with as perfect a sphere as we can possibly engineer?"
Duh! I mean, what could be more obvious that using a sphere to get spherical symmetry?
After all, a basketball is as perfect a sphere as can be engineered for the game of basketball. Why not use this shape for the best Fatman implosion? But it was not used because it failed, and it failed for a very basic reason, which reason leads us to why the 32 faced- truncated icosahedron shape is the best for a soccer ball.
Let us look at the differences between the forces acting on a basketball and then on a soccer ball when they are used in their respective games. Or what is the wear and tear on both kinds of balls?
A basketball is meant to be dribbled or bounced in such a way that the player can control and move the ball down court. In physics, we can say that the basketball experiences a series of implosion impulses every time it hits the ground. Of course there are implosion impulses that occur when the ball is shot and hits the metal rim.
But a basketball is constructed in such a way that it doesn't have to withstand very large implosion forces, whereas a soccer ball is made to be imploded!!!. Each and every kick from a player is a massive implosion impulse given to the soccer ball and the ball has to be so perfectly symmetrically constructed that it can withstand the implosive kicks at every point on its ALMOST perfectly spherical surface.
Think further on this. Suppose a basketball were to be substituted for a soccer ball. It would not take long before someone would kick a hole in said basketball. OK, why not thicken the skin of the basketball so it could survive. This is asking why isn't a soccer ball in the shape of a perfect sphere?
Well, you could make the skin thicker, but then that would make it heavier and also less robust in its rebounding , so it would start to act more like a nerf ball.
You see, the point of both ball constructions is to have as thin a membrane as possible while still manifesting the most robust characteristics needed for the given sport. The basketball membrane can be both thin and spherical, essentially one piece construction, whereas the soccer ball membrane is traditionally constructed by sewing together the 32 faces of this Archimedean solid.
So what Elizabeth Boggs and her colleagues discovered was the soccer ball shape is best because it provides the greatest "implosion force" to "membrane thickness" ratio of any other shape! As far as I know, the scientists were not inspired by watching a soccer ball being kicked in action, and from that observation having an "Aha!" experience and saying: "Of course! A soccer ball. That's got to be our shape!" No, I believe they arrived at this insight the hard way, grinding out mind-boggling calculations on the primitive prototype "electronic brains" they had.
But now, let's move away from implosion because this is all like a fairy tale where things must happen in threes. This is the Fairy Tale of the Truncated Iscosahedron. The first two applications are:
(1) The shape of the soccer ball;
(2) The shape of the explosive lenses in the Fatman atom Bomb
And (3) ???
You wrote about this only once before, Bradford , August 2006 on AT
Number (3) is BUCKMINSTERFULLERENE!!!!!!!!!!!!
All right, let's play Bucky Ball!
Here we are not concerned about the 32 faces, but rather the 60 vertices on the "soccer ball" molecule, this the third form of carbon after graphite and diamond.
The formula is C-60, representing the 60 carbon atoms at each vertex or corner of the BuckyBall.
And they lived happily ever after and died well.
Buckminsterfullerene. The Bucky Ball. A Truncated Icosahedron.
(Euler Numbers: 32 Faces + 60 Vertices 2 = 90 Edges)
Rotate a Buckyball here with the Java Applet
Print, cut out and making your own BuckyBall or Soccer Ball or Fatman explosive lenses configuration out of these 20 hexagons
Comparison of Truncated Icosahedron and a Soccer Ball