Costaesque (Algorithmic Geometry V)


In 1982, Celso José da Costa wrote down the equations of a minimal surface that most mathematicians at that time thought shouldn’t exist. It shares properties with the plane and catenoid that were supposed to be unique to them. Nothing could be more wrong. Since Costa, many more minimal surfaces in that same elite class have been found.

The curiously complicated way in which the Costa surfaces merges a horizontal plane with a catenoid by avoiding any intersections has become a pattern for similar constructions that is quite aptly called Costaesque.

Amusingly, the same pattern occurs in Alan Schoen’s I6 or Figure Eight surface from 1970.


It can be viewed as a triply periodic aunt of the Costa surface but was conceived as a Plateau solution for two pairs of squares in parallel planes, each of which meet a corner to form a figure eight.

This surface has a particularly simple polygonal approximation by the bent 60 degree rhombi that we have encountered before.


Let’s take 12 such bent rhombi and assemble them into an X-piece that has the two figure 8 squarical holes. A second such X-piece is rotated by 90 degrees and attached to the top to form the polygonal version of Schoen’s I6 fundamental piece.


Alternatively, one can also tile the surface with straight 60 degree rhombi so that it becomes a triply periodic zonohedron.


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