Meaning of Prism

What is Prism:

Prism is a point of view or a perspective. In mathematics, the prism is a solid geometric figure with flat faces and a polygonal base without curves.

Prisms, as a figure, are made up of six elements:

  • Base (B): formed by two polygons.
  • Faces (F): lateral parallelograms and bases, all flat surfaces are counted.
  • Height (h): the distance between the bases.
  • Vertices (V): are the corners or points where the faces meet.
  • Edges (E): are the sides of each face or the intersecting face segments.

See also Polygon.

The prism is a polyhedron that is characterized by having several flat faces. To identify whether a figure is a polyhedron or not, the result of the following formula must give 2: add the number of faces (F) plus the number of vertices (V) minus the number of edges (E). This is Euler's formula or polyhedron formula:

Classification of prisms

Prisms are classified according to the special characteristics of their bases.

Number of sides of the bases of the prisms

The number of sides of a prism will determine the name of the prism. For instance:

  • A triangular prism is one that has a three-sided base or a triangle as its base.
  • A rectangular prism is one that has a four-sided base or a rectangle as a base.
  • A pentagonal prism is one that has a five-sided base or a pentagon as a base.

There are in this way, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal prisms, etc.

Prisms with regular or irregular bases

This classification determines a regular base when all its sides are of equal length and are circumscribed to a circumference. Otherwise, it is considered an uneven base.

Straight or oblique prisms

A right prism is one whose base is perpendicular to the axes of the plane polygons that make up the faces of the prism. An oblique prism has the axes of the polygons, which constitute the faces, joined by an oblique line to its base.

Convex and concave prisms

Convex prisms have bases that are convex polygons, that is, they have sides that tend outward. Concave prisms, on the other hand, have concave polygon bases that curve inward.

Newton prism

In the field of optics, Newton's prism was the instrument used by Isaac Newton (1643-1727) to study the nature of light.

The scientist used a triangular prism where, through the refraction of white light, the light was decomposed into the colors of the rainbow.

See also Rainbow.

This phenomenon was the basis of his work Optics, published in 1704, which defined that the different colors were generated by the degree of separation of light as a function of the wavelength of each color. He was also able to verify, using two prisms, that white light is a mixture of all colors.

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