Friday, 2 October 2009


Dozens of small dodecahedra, dating back to the 2nd century CE, have been found in Roman ruins all over Europe. No one can figure out what they were for, so everyone has a theory. There are at least 27 different theories regarding their function, ranging from bludgeons to toys, Celtic magic objects to candlesticks. It seems to me that there is a certain breed of people who cannot rest until they have classified and assigned a function to everything in the vicinity.

A visit to my room would give such a person plenty to think about – there is the poster of a donkey shitting coins, for example, and the carved walking-stick in the corner which I am not (yet) old enough to need. The latest addition to the things with no apparent purpose is also the coolest – a regular dodecahedron made of cherry wood.

Like all Platonic solids, it looks somehow timeless. Like all things made of wood, it smells nice. If I am introspecting, I can hold it before me and stare at it intently in the manner made famous by Hamlet. (This does not aid introspection, but I like to strike dramatic poses.) At other times, it sits just above my computer monitor, and when I raise my eyes slightly, its inscrutable pentagonal faces blankly return my gaze. For a dodecahedron has that quality – a vase is for holding flowers, a clock is to tell you the time, but a dodecahedron simply is. Its purpose in life is to be a dodecahedron.

But the best, the absolute coolest thing about the dodecahedron, the thing that gives it an edge in the coolness stakes above even the donkey poster, is this: the dodecahedron comes all the way from Lone Pine, CA, and it was sent by Tommy, and Tommy – may his code always compile – made it himself. If you want to see how it was made, click here. If you want to see the dodecahedron with your own eyes, drop by my place of an afternoon. You can have lunch even.


Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Post a pic :)

And what became of the biriyani post you promised, hyan hyan?!

Priyanka said...

I remember the poster, but the dodecahedron needs a viewing. When is lunch?

*looks hopeful*

I'll return your books even =D

Rick said...

An observation: Are Mr. Tommy and Mr. Sroyon linguistically related?

There is a underlying similarity in their expression.

Death On Two Legs said...

The last time I was this pointlessly intrigued by an object was when I first learnt of mobius strips :D

new age scheherazade said...

I love this post, and I remember the cane.
(And I did notice my blogroll description-change. Coffee Break's doing its work!)

Sroyon said...

@Shrabasti: Pics are there on the page where Tommy explains how he made it. And the biryani post is not happening. There are Reasons.

@Priyanka: This weekend?

@Rick: Underlying similarity? Have I been subconsciously copying other bloggers' writing styles?

@DoTL: Hmm, did you learn of Klein bottles before you learnt of Mobius strips? Or do Klein bottles not intrigue you so much?

@scheherazade: You have a keen eye (both for canes and blogroll changes). :)