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MAA Found Math for the week of February 27, 2012

MAA's Lisa Kolbe snapped this photo of a plaque outside the Sydney Opera House. Architect Jørn Utzon writes:


"After three years of intensive search for a basic geometry for the shell complex I arrived in October 1961 with the spherical solution shown here.


I call this my 'key to the shells' because it solves all the problems of construction by opening up for mass production, precision in manufacture and simple erection and with this geometrical system I attain full harmony between all the shapes in this fantastic complex."


The fourteen shells of the building, if combined, would form a perfect sphere. This plaque honoring Utzon was unveiled in 1993. According to the Sydney Opera House website, "In correspondence between the Sydney Opera House Trust and Utzon, Utzon insisted the plaque not be about himself but should be a demonstration of the spherical solution."


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Update: The MAA celebrates Pi Day every year on March 14 (3/14). Find facts about pi, fun activities, and photos sent in by MAA members showing how they celebrate 3.141592... on our Pi Day Page. Planning anything special? The MAA is collecting pi-related photos for our gallery. Send your pi-related photos with a brief description to

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Taken on February 17, 2012