Lewis Bernard Professor of Natural Sciences
Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials
Princeton, New Jersey
Articles: ArXiv (149): The structure factor of primes (2018), Hyperuniform States of Matter (2018)
YouTube: Hyperuniformity in many-particle systems and its generalizations
First email: Mar 10, 2014, 8:54 PM
Dear Prof. Dr. Salvatore Torquato:
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your work (referenced just above).
Back in 2002 I spent a very pleasant day with John Conway but he did accuse me of being hung up on the relation between the tetrahedron and octahedron. For more I’ll copy in part of the story below. Though I am late to discover your July 5, 2011 paper, I was so glad to discover it today. It adds fuel to the fire and opened the door to your work.
I am so glad to meet you through your writings. I have already inserted references to your work in two articles (referenced below).
After spending a bit more time with your writing, may I call you?
PS. I’ve been working with clear plastic models — made the molds and made thousands of octahedrons and tetrahedrons — to delve into the issues of fragmentation and wholeness. David Bohm’s book by that title, has a prominent place in my library.
Our references about which you might be interested:
Here is what I said about John Conway:
“An earlier history began with the study of perfected states in space time.
Sometime around 2002, at Princeton with geometer, John Conway, the discussion focused on the work of David Bohm, once a physicist from Birbeck College, University of London. “What is a point? What is a line? What is a plane vis-a-vis the triangle? What is a tetrahedron?” Bohm’s book, Fragmentation & Wholeness, raised key questions about the nature of structure and thought. It occurred to me that I did not know what was perfectly and most simply enclosed by the tetrahedron. What were its most simple number of internal parts? Of course, John Conway, was amused by my simplicity. We talked about the four tetrahedrons and the octahedron in the center.
“I said, ‘We all should know these things as easily as we know 2 times 2. The kids should be playing with tetrahedrons and octahedrons, not just blocks.’
“What is most simply and perfectly enclosed within the octahedron?” There are six octahedrons in each corner and the eight tetrahedrons within each face. Known by many, it was not in our geometry textbook. Professor Conway asked, “Now, why are you so hung up on the octahedron?” Of course, I was at the beginning of this discovery process, talking to a person who had studied and developed conceptual richness throughout his lifetime. I was taking baby steps, and was still surprised and delighted to find so much within both objects. Also, at that time I had asked thousands of professionals — teachers, including geometry teachers, architects, biologists, and chemists — and no one knew the answer that John Conway so easily articulated. It was not long thereafter that we began discovering communities of people in virtually every academic discipline who easily knew that answer and were shaping new discussions about facets of geometry we never imagined existed.
“Of course, I blamed myself for getting hung up on the two most simple structures… “You’re just too simple and easily get hung up on simple things.”