The Gyroid was discovered in 1970 by the NASA engineer Alan Schoen. It is a minimal surface ("soap film") that extends periodically in three independent directions in space.
Before that, other examples of such surfaces had been found, all of them containing straight lines or admitting reflectional symmetries at planes. Not so the Gyroid, which is exceedingly hard to visualize.
Moreover, the Gyroid is a member of the associate family of the well known P- and D-surfaces, that were discovered by Hermann Amandus Schwarz around 1890, but nobody had looked at it before. Finally, material scientists have found that the Gyroid arises as a dividing surface in microemulsions of block copolymers. The pictures below show sculptures by Morton C. Bradley based on the Gyroid.- Matthias Weber
Copyright 2010, Indiana University Art Museum photograph by Michael Cavanagh and Kevin Montague.