MAA Writing Awards
Topology Explains Why Automobile Sunshades Fold Oddly
Award: George Pólya
Year of Award: 2010
Publication Information: College Mathematics Journal, vol. 40, no. 2, March 2009, pp. 93-98
Summary: In this article the authors examine "automatic folding" sunshades that coil up when not in use. From the authors' experience, it seems impossible simply to fold such a sunshade in half (i.e. coil it into exactly two loops.) The object here is to figure out how many loops can appear in the coil and to understand why.
About the Authors: (From Prizes and Awards, MathFest 2010)
Curtis Feist received his B.S. and M.S. from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and his Ph.D. (in Topology) from the University of California, Davis, under the supervision of Abigail Thompson. He is currently an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Southern Oregon University.