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Soccer Ball Math

June 30th, 2010 by Steven Pomeroy | Filed under Math Geometry.




So here we are, at the peak of the world cup.  The ball used is familiar to most of the world, but do you know how it is constructed?  I’m sure you never took a course in soccer ball math, so let me share with you some interesting tidbits about this famous ball.

The patterns on the soccer ball are very distinct.  In fact, the ball itself is based on a geometric solid called a truncated icosahedron:

Truncated Icosahedron

Truncated Icosahedron, made by w:en:User:Cyp using POV-Ray

It has 32 faces, composed of 12 regular pentagons, and 20 regular hexagons.  The pentagons are dark in color (usually black), and the hexagons are light in color (usually white).  The material used in the construction of the soccer ball is usually leather or plastic.  The construct becomes spherical due to the internal pressure of the air in the ball.

This pattern has not always been used in world cup soccer.  The official soccer ball for the 2006 World Cup was made from 14 curved panels.  This year, Adidas introduced the jabulani 2010 world cup soccer ball, which has “grip’n’groove” technology which gives it accuracy and stability in flight (although it has been argued that the ball’s trajectory becomes unpredictable during game play).

For detailed information on this spherical solid, please visit this Wikipedia Entry.


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