Menger challenge on
KIWIS are competing in a worldwide challenge to build a giant cube out of 50,000 business cards.
The University of Auckland team has about 35,000 cards so far.
And it’s inviting people to help build the cube, known in the maths world as a menger sponge.
The sponge is an infinite geometrical shape which looks the same no matter how close or far away you are.
Nicolette Rattenbury works in the University of Auckland’s maths department and is one of those helping build it. She says the team has recovered from an earlier set back over Labour Weekend when its first menger sponge broke during construction at Auckland Art Gallery.
The team is competing in the MegaMenger challenge in which 20 other countries build cubes the same size.
She says the exercise helps introduce people to maths in a hands-on way.
‘‘It engages people but it also shows an overlap between math and art. ‘‘Maths can be beautiful.’’ Her 6-year-old son William is also helping build the cube, which will eventually be 1.5 metres-cubed in size.
Fifteen people from the University of Auckland maths and physics departments have worked on the project so far. They hope to finish the menger sponge by December 19 for the department’s end of year celebrations.
Ten companies have helped sponsor the project. The maths department sourced decorative cards to cover the cube with and ‘‘motivational’’ pizza for helpers, Rattenbury says.
The menger sponge is available for public viewing on the fourth floor of the University of Auckland’s science centre.
Email nicolette.rattenbury@ auckland.ac.nz.
Building blocks: The university team building the menger sponge, which sits behind them. From left, back: Nick Rattenbury, Thomas Haase, Bonnie Yu, Martin Donachie. Middle: Fiona Panther, Nicolette Rattenbury and her son William.