"I carved the interior shape while groping for a shape which would seem fulfilling, internally harmonious, and perhaps inspiring," John Safer explained. "When that part of the sculpture was complete, I realized that it was a three-dimensional rendition of the symbol for infinity. Safer chose to orient his sculpture vertically rather than horizontally and mounted it within an elliptical frame--in effect, confining infinity.
Knot sculpture by Nat Friedman. Albany, New York, 2000.
The continuous loop of a three-dimensional mathematical knot constructed from copper tubing casts a shadow that can vary greatly in appearance and complexity, depending on the viewpoint and light direction.
Welcome to an occasional series devoted to "cool stuff" that I encounter while browsing the world of mathematics and computer science. I'll peek at new developments in math and its applications, and I'll revisit old puzzles, famous problems, and historic events—anything mathematical that happens to catch my eye. I hope you'll find something of value in these brief, informal forays into the world of math.
Ivars Peterson is a freelance writer and editor. He was Director of Publications at the Mathematical Association of America from 2007 to 2014. As an award-winning mathematics writer, he previously worked at Science News for more than 25 years and served as editor of Science News Online and Science News for Kids. His books include The Mathematical Tourist, Islands of Truth, Newton's Clock, and Fragments of Infinity: A Kaleidoscope of Math and Art.