If you thought the heart was the most romantic shape, then it’s time to meet the Möbius strip. When two of these famous mathematical surfaces are placed together, you’ll end up with two interlocking hearts. Nothing says “I love you” better than a little mathematical wonder!
All you need to make this mathematical statement of love is paper, scissors, and tape. That’s it!
What is a Möbius Strip?
The easiest way to explain a Möbius strip is to make one.
We first cut a strip of paper about 1-1.5 inches by 8-10 inches.
Next, we made a loop with the strip, put a half twist in one side (turned one end 180 degrees), then taped it together.
Now to see what makes the Möbius strip famous, we drew a line down each “side” without lifting our pen. The Möbius strip is famous because it only has one side and one surface!
Now that we mastered the Möbius strip, we challenged ourself by making two Möbius strips into two interlocking hearts.
Making Möbius Hearts
For the next step, we grabbed two strips of paper.
For the first strip, we made the half twist to the left. Then we taped down both sides of the strip.
We made the second Möbius strip by making the half twist to the right. It’s key that each strip was made by twisting the strip in opposite directions.
We took the two Möbius strips and placed them together at a 90 degree angle where they were taped. We taped the 2 strips together on both sides.
Starting with one strip, we gently folded it in half and cut a small slit in it.
Next, we cut the strip in half lengthwise.
We kept cutting right through the intersection of the next Möbius strip.
Once we finished cutting the first strip into two, we finished cutting the second strip (the purple strip) in half, lengthwise,
Voila! We had two interlocking Möbius hearts!
More about the Möbius Strip
The Möbius strip is named after mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius, who came up with the idea in 1858.
Interestingly, German mathematician Johann Benedict Listing developed the same idea a few months earlier but the strip was named after Möbius.
Like mentioned earlier, the Möbius strip is famous because it only has one side and edge. The original paper strip had 2 sides. Mathematicians call that “orientable”. The Möbius strip, with its half twist, is considered “non-orientable”.
So, besides being a geeky way to say “I love you”, what good is the Möbius strip?
Large versions of the Möbius strip have been used in the past for conveyor belts. The 180 degree twist increased the life of the conveyor belt as all surfaces were evenly exposed to wear and tear.
Other practical uses have been used in typewriter ribbons, recording tapes, and computer printer cartridges.
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