The Sphere Calculator contains equations for volumes, surface areas, and moments of inertia for objects shaped like a geometric sphere. The user can enter basic dimensions and the calculator returns the values. Note, different units are available for input and outputs of the equations.
A sphere (from Greek — sphaira, "globe, ball") is a perfectly round geometrical and circular object in three-dimensional space that resembles the shape of a completely round ball. Like a circle, which, in geometric contexts, is in two dimensions, a sphere is defined mathematically as the set of points that are all the same distance r from a given point in three-dimensional space. This distance r is the radius of the sphere, and the given point is the center of the sphere. The maximum straight distance through the sphere passes through the center and is thus twice the radius; it is the diameter.
In mathematics, a distinction is made between the sphere (a two-dimensional closed surface embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space) and the ball (a three-dimensional shape that includes the interior of a sphere).
Pairs of points on a sphere that lie on a straight line through the sphere's center are called antipodal points. A great circle is a circle on the sphere that has the same center and radius as the sphere and consequently divides it into two equal parts. The shortest distance along the surface between two distinct non-antipodal points on the surface is on the unique great circle that includes the two points. Equipped with the great-circle distance, a great circle becomes the Riemannian circle.
If a particular point on a sphere is (arbitrarily) designated as its north pole, then the corresponding antipodal point is called the south pole, and the equator is the great circle that is equidistant to them. Great circles through the two poles are called lines (or meridians) of longitude, and the line connecting the two poles is called the axis of rotation. Circles on the sphere that are parallel to the equator are lines of latitude. This terminology is also used for such approximately spheroidal astronomical bodies as the planet Earth.
Any plane that includes the center of a sphere divides it into two equal hemispheres. Any two intersecting planes that include the center of a sphere subdivide the sphere into four lunes or biangles, the vertices of which all coincide with the antipodal points lying on the line of intersection of the planes.
The antipodal quotient of the sphere is the surface called the real projective plane, which can also be thought of as the northern hemisphere with antipodal points of the equator identified.
The round hemisphere is conjectured to be the optimal (least area) filling of the Riemannian circle.
The circles of intersection of any plane not intersecting the sphere's center and the sphere's surface are called spheric sections
In their book Geometry and the imagination1 David Hilbert and Stephan Cohn-Vossen describe eleven properties of the sphere and discuss whether these properties uniquely determine the sphere. Several properties hold for the plane, which can be thought of as a sphere with infinite radius. These properties are:
The first part is the usual definition of the sphere and determines it uniquely. The second part can be easily deduced and follows a similar result of Apollonius of Perga for the circle. This second part also holds for the plane.
This property defines the sphere uniquely.
The width of a surface is the distance between pairs of parallel tangent planes. Numerous other closed convex surfaces have constant width, for example the Meissner body. The girth of a surface is the circumference of the boundary of its orthogonal projection on to a plane. Each of these properties implies the other.
At any point on a surface a normal direction is at right angles to the surface because the sphere these are the lines radiating out from the center of the sphere. The intersection of a plane that contains the normal with the surface will form a curve that is called a normal section, and the curvature of this curve is the normal curvature. For most points on most surfaces, different sections will have different curvatures; the maximum and minimum values of these are called the principal curvatures. Any closed surface will have at least four points called umbilical points. At an umbilic all the sectional curvatures are equal; in particular the principal curvatures are equal. Umbilical points can be thought of as the points where the surface is closely approximated by a sphere.
For the sphere the curvatures of all normal sections are equal, so every point is an umbilic. The sphere and plane are the only surfaces with this property.
For a given normal section exists a circle of curvature that equals the sectional curvature, is tangent to the surface, and the center lines of which lie along on the normal line. For example, the two centers corresponding to the maximum and minimum sectional curvatures are called the focal points, and the set of all such centers forms the focal surface.
For most surfaces the focal surface forms two sheets that are each a surface and meet at umbilical points. Several cases are special:
Geodesics are curves on a surface that give the shortest distance between two points. They are a generalization of the concept of a straight line in the plane. For the sphere the geodesics are great circles. Many other surfaces share this property.
It follows from isoperimetric inequality. These properties define the sphere uniquely and can be seen in soap bubbles: a soap bubble will enclose a fixed volume, and surface tension minimizes its surface area for that volume. A freely floating soap bubble therefore approximates a sphere (though such external forces as gravity will slightly distort the bubble's shape).
The mean curvature is the average of the two principal curvatures, which is constant because the two principal curvatures are constant at all points of the sphere.
The sphere is the only imbedded surface that lacks boundary or singularities with constant positive mean curvature. Other such immersed surfaces as minimal surfaces have constant mean curvature.
Gaussian curvature is the product of the two principal curvatures. It is an intrinsic property that can be determined by measuring length and angles and is independent of how the surface is embedded in space. Hence, bending a surface will not alter the Gaussian curvature, and other surfaces with constant positive Gaussian curvature can be obtained by cutting a small slit in the sphere and bending it. All these other surfaces would have boundaries, and the sphere is the only surface that lacks a boundary with constant, positive Gaussian curvature. The pseudosphere is an example of a surface with constant negative Gaussian curvature.
Rotating around any axis a unit sphere at the origin will map the sphere onto itself. Any rotation about a line through the origin can be expressed as a combination of rotations around the three-coordinate axis (see Euler angles). Therefore a three-parameter family of rotations exists such that each rotation transforms the sphere onto itself; this family is the rotation group SO(3). The plane is the only other surface with a three-parameter family of transformations (translations along the x and y axis and rotations around the origin). Circular cylinders are the only surfaces with two-parameter families of rigid motions and the surfaces of revolution and helicoids are the only surfaces with a one-parameter family.