The Vice-Chancellor was in the Whipple Museum of the History of Science last week to accept one of the more unusual gifts to be presented to the University to mark the 800th anniversary year.

Hungarian engineer Gabor Domokos, currently Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, is one of the two inventors of the perfect, self-righting solid shape, known as the Gömböc.

A unique 800th Anniversary edition of the precision-made convex shape, inscribed GÖMBÖC 1209, the year of the University’s foundation, was presented to the Vice-Chancellor by Professor Domokos.

Unlike the self-righting Weeble toy, to which it has been compared, the Gömböc has an even distribution of weight, being made of a single material, but due to its shape has just one stable and one unstable point of equilibrium.

The question of whether, contrary to common belief, it would be possible to construct such a three dimensional body was raised by the Russian mathematician Vladimir Arnold in 1995.

Twelve years later Domokos and a former student of his, Péter Várkonyi, came up with the Gömböc and met with unprecedented worldwide acclaim and attention.

The main technological challenge in producing a Gömböc is that its measurements have to be extremely precise down to a fraction of a millimetre.

Professor Domokos said: “Our goal was to make this shape accessible to the academic community worldwide and if one had to pick one place for this purpose, the Whipple Museum would be the first choice. We are both very glad that our initiative was received so warmly by the University and we feel privileged that Gömböc 1209 will be on permanent display at the world’s foremost scientific centre. “

The Gömböc’s inventors have been awarded the Knight's Cross of the Republic of Hungary.

Individualy numbered Gömböcs of various sizes and made of various materials have been created and are on display at a number of institutions.

The 800th anniversary Gömböc will be on display in the Whipple Museum of the History of Science. The Whipple Museum is open from 12:30 to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday. Admission to the Museum is free and open to all.


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