WAYS:Animals: Turtles

Turtles:
In 2006 Hungarian mathematicians Gábor Domokos and Péter L. Várkonyi demonstrated the possibility of “a convex three-dimensional homogeneous body which, when resting on a flat surface, has just one stable and one unstable point of equilibrium.” They named such forms Gömböc after a sweet Hungarian dumpling. Gömböc are self-righting: they will roll as if possessed before coming to rest on one precise point.
In 2007 the same mathematicians authored a paper examining the surprising similarity between Gömböc and certain turtle species. By providing turtles with shaped shells that allow them to avoid the certain death that finding themselves on their backs portends, evolution anticipated the discovery of the Gomboc by millennia.
Later that year the Gömböc-Shop.com was launched, offering authentic forms for purchase. Proof that Gomboc exist has been published, however the precise geometry necessary for their construction has not been made public.
Domokos and Varkonyi found a solution to an abstract mathematical puzzle and provided insight into a natural form.  Their findings also answered an age-old artistic question – how can one make three-dimensional multiples where each object can only be displayed in a single way?


P.L. Várkonyi, G. Domokos:  Mono-monostatic bodies: the answer to Arnold's question  Mathematical Intelligencer 28 (4) pp34-38 (2006)