Platonic solids

Last night, just as I was about to hop into bed, I was forced to endure a lesson on platonic solids. And no, unfortunately platonic solids have nothing to do with sex or lack of. They’re far less exciting. This is one of the side-effects of being married to a mathematician: I get lessons. He’s even got a whiteboard now!

My father is also an academic and when I was growing he used to give my sister and me lessons on his blackboard. One time we got a lesson about how babies are made, complete with pictures he had drawn. It was all a bit scientific.

But I digress. I really want to pass on my new-found knowledge of platonic solids because they are supposed to be mathematically beautiful and there are only five of them in the whole wide world: tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron.

Platonic solids are regular polyhedra and they must satisfy this formula (known as Euler’s formula):

V – E + F = 2
Vertices – Edges + Faces = 2

We can test it out with a tetrahedron (which is really a triangle in 3D):


The vertices are the corners of the tetrahedron -> 4
The edges are all the lines in the diagram -> 6
The faces are the triangles themselves -> 4

And ta da ….

4 – 6 + 4 = 2

Today I discovered that the smartest teams are the teams with more women on them. One of the reasons for this is because women tend to perform better on what is called the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. I took the test and got 30. I work in the tech industry and although I hear this industry is rife with sexism, I have never experienced it myself. I work for a company which is very inclusive, diverse, and my team is incredibly supportive. My team lead also happens to be a woman. Being a woman in the IT industry is pretty good.


  1. Interesting. I got 29 just below you (it said at end of test that women score just better than men). I was trying to see how you got from Platonic solids to emotional intelligence tests! Maybe you are testing us! Btw I believe women often make better project managers than men because 80 % of the challenge is communication skills and it’s terribly sexist to say but on average women are better at that. Men often get lost in the technicalities of projects. Having been brought up with 4 sisters I like to think I am an exception!

    1. Yes, I didn’t really tie platonic solids and emotional intelligence together very well but they weren’t really supposed to be together. It was just my mind flitting from one thing to another 🙂

      I’m sure there must be some benefits to growing up with four sisters although I imagine it must have been hell at the time 🙂

  2. You lost me when you said mathematician, math is a big problem for me. One thing there are too many numbers. And when formulas are mentioned warning bells go off in my head. Brain overload. 🙂

      1. Cool, feeble mind talking here. Isn’t music in a sense math also? That thought came from hearing it somewhere. Which in itself a language? All related in some form I suppose.

  3. I’m really curious how you got through high school geometry without learning about Platonic solids.

    Also, I think you confused things a bit by shifting gears from Platonic solids to polyhedra generally.

  4. Rachel, I thought you did physics at Uni (maybe a false memory)? You need at least some maths for that … Some algebra certainly … Maybe even some Bras & Kets? Nothing particularly solid.

    1. Ah, no. I did study in the physical sciences but aside from a first year astronomy subject it was mostly computer science and just a tiny bit of mathematics – discrete maths. I’ve got a bachelor of science in computer science and also a bachelor of business.

    1. Haha, yes, I missed that but I’ve since looked it up. I’m often slow to get jokes so don’t take it personally.

      It mathematics there’s something called the Tits Alternative and Tits groups which trumps Bras and Kets.

  5. I got 26 which is quite good for a mathematician. I was trying to teach my daughter maths and I got my polyhedra mixed up. Good thing she knows what she’s doing.

  6. I got 32. This is odd, as for many of the choices I just guessed – or if not pure guessing, I used a process of elimination. Matbe it was just luck. After all I once got 0% in a multiple choice applied maths exam… and I was generally quite good at maths.

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