Modeling Buckyball Molecules with African Hexastrip Weaves
Paulus Gerdes, professor of mathematics in Mozambique, has studied the use of hexagonal weaving patterns in Africa and indigneous cultures elsewhere (India, Brazil, Malaysia, etc.). He found that this weaving technique could also be used to model the hexagonal patterns in large carbon molecules called "buckministerfullerenes" (named after the inventor of geodesic domes, R. Buckminster Fuller). They are often called "buckyballs" for short. This website will show you how to make these indignenous weave models yourself using paper, tape and scissors.

sepak

Indigneous "sepak" (Malaysian soccer ball)

buckyball

Buckyball molecule C60


paper

The paper model you will build!

Why a hexagonal weave? Suppose you are making a basket. You make a circular rim (black). Then you wrap your strands (grey) around the rim so that they are as close as possible without crossing. As long as the rim is the same width as the strands, this will always make a 60 degree angle! No wonder the technique is found in so many indigenous cultures.

Click here to watch a video of a hexagonal basket weave in a Baka village in Cameroon

Buckyball simulation

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wound