What’s in the Logo? That Which We Call a Rhombic Hexecontahedron
Every aspect of Wolfram|Alpha has been thought through in great detail. Its logo is no exception.
As a tip of the hat to the vast and powerful computational engine that powers Wolfram|Alpha, a natural place to start brainstorming for an appropriate logo was in Mathematica itself. And this is where I, geometry enthusiast and the developer of the PolyhedronData computational data collection, came into the picture.
As many of you may know, Mathematica‘s logo is a three-dimensional polyhedron affectionately called “Spikey.” In its original (Version 1) form, Spikey consisted of the spiked solid obtained from an icosahedron (the regular 20-faced solid that is one of the five Platonic solids) with regular tetrahedra (triangular pyramids) affixed to its faces.
More elaborate forms of Spikey were used in each subsequent version of Mathematica. The current Spikey is an embellishment of a so-called hyperbolic dodecahedron (basically, a regular dodecahedron whose faces become special curved surfaces according to fixed mathematical rules). For a very interesting account of how the current-generation Spikey was created, see the fascinating Wolfram Blog post by Michael Trott.
For Wolfram|Alpha, we wanted a simple yet elegant polyhedral logo that harked back to Spikey (yet retained its own intrinsic uniqueness), was geometrically interesting, and was visually attractive. We considered hundreds of possibilities, including many from my rather extensive collections of polyhedra on MathWorld and PolyhedronData. After rejecting many candidates, we finally settled on the attractive solid known as the rhombic hexecontahedron (“rhombic” refers to the fact that the faces of the solid consist of rhombi, while “hexecontahedron” is a word derived from the Greek, which simply means “60-faced solid”).
The rhombic hexecontahedron is a polyhedron that can be obtained as one of the 227 “fully supported” rhombic triacontahedron stellations. (For more details on the rhombic triacontahedron and the process of stellation, the reader is referred to MathWorld). It turns out that this solid has a number of very interesting mathematical properties, including several relations to the famous golden ratio. To explore some of the solid’s properties, see Sándor Kabai’s “Inside the Rhombic Hexecontahedron” example at the Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Rather surprisingly, this solid is actually inferred to exist in nature as the central core of a quasicrystal aggregate of Al6Li3Cu produced by slow solidification.
Of course, the real fun of Wolfram|Alpha is not what’s in its name or its logo, but rather in what it can do. My colleagues and I have been working very hard for nearly three years to make sure that it includes many interesting and useful things, one small part of which (as you might expect) is the ability to compute and display properties and images of many polyhedra (not to mention a few other mathematical objects).
With so much in the universe left to compute, we know there are years of refinements, additions, and enhancements that will follow the initial release of Wolfram|Alpha. So, as the site continues to grow and move forward, it’s likely that its logo will continue to reflect this growing sophistication in some small measure. Which I think is a nice touch. Even though the site would be just as sweet under any other logo.
cool! never thought it before 🙂
The logo comes from within the software? So in one sense its contributing to itself 😮
Can WA call up the screens or a snapshot of each screen in your control room?
Just great. Myself, I couldn’t relate better to any other logos out there. 🙂
Perhaps some form of animated hiper-hexecontahedron projections??
Yes, this was a transposition bug in the data sources. Already fixed and should make it onto the live servers in the next push. (The skeleton is actually the DeltoidalHexecontahedralGraph; see MathWorld)
Easily my favorite hexecontahedron 😀
Not mere “rhombi” but “golden rhombi”! As in “the goose that laid the golden . . . “
I like the quote “The Logo comes from within the software.” Very well said
What Wolfram Alpha related searches are there regarding this fascinating logo?
i like the first one
I have seen a lot of hex’s on the internet but this hex is the most impressive of all that I have ever googled across. If I ever have a logo that is based on science, I hope it can live up to the power of a logo like that that is instilled by the power of Wolfram|Alpha’s mightiness. It is The Fuego of all that is fuego. To “El Fuego”.
I like the second one because of it’s quality.
Wolfram logo is lookng great can’t have knowledge on mathematica unable to understand how you people designed wolfram logo.
Those are obviously just first steps, otherwise I would say this search engine is as good as nothing.
I forgot on 18, and then saw on google news, u should have send emails to users atleast who have subscribed to you !
Is this a daily blog on WA in general, or should comments be on subject in the title at the head?
Comments on the blog can be general or specific to the post topic. Thanks!
@Jeff: The second logo – Mathematica Version 7 Spikey – fascinates me very much.
Nice Logo – i remeber working on this geometrical problem in school 🙂
I searched for the President of Azerbaijan and the result was Bako Sahakyan. Please CHANGE that WRONG information. It should say Ilham Aliyev. Also add Azerbaijan to the country list.
Samira from Azerbaijan
very complex mathematics to understand.. but anyways . it looks good
Thanx great for an new serach engine;)
Great Post. Thanks.
I dont understand this stupid result. The president of Azerbaijan is not correct. And “The Republic of Garabagh” doesn’t exist. Your system is not working correctly
quisiera saber mas de este nuevo buscador y cuando estara disponible en español
It’s also got an eerie resemblance to the crystal which represents the all-seeing computer in the 1976 film ‘Logan’s Run’ – there’s something odd about that, especially when you’ve already referenced Hal the computer in ‘2001’ when the system gets a bit overloaded…but perhaps it’s entirely appropriate…
I had to make one of those dodecahedron shapes out of construction paper in 6th grade… I thought THAT was hard to understand back then, now i see that the logo is WAY more complicated.. This site has a lot of effort and thinking put into it. Great quality website!!
amazing…thing happened this 18th may… thanks a ton….
I like the logo but the animation is very distracting especially when you are staring at the screen more than few seconds. It would be nice to click on it to stop the animation.
Great job though.