This task examines the ways in which the plane can be covered by regular polygons in a very strict arrangement called a regular tessellation. These tessellations are studied here using algebra, which enters the picture via the formula for the measure of the interior angles of a regular polygon (which should therefore be introduced or reviewed before beginning the task). The goal of the task is to use algebra in order to understand which tessellations of the plane with regular polygons are possible.
This task is inspired by the derivation of the volume formula for the sphere. If a sphere of radius 1 is enclosed in a cylinder of radius 1 and height 2, then the volume not occupied by the sphere is equal to the volume of a Ňdouble-naped coneÓ with vertex at the center of the sphere and bases equal to the bases of the cylinder.
The purpose of this task is for students to apply the concepts of mass, volume, and density in a real-world context. There are several ways one might approach the problem, e.g., by estimating the volume of a person and dividing by the volume of a cell.