The Boy Surface at Oberwolfach

The Boy surface is named after Werner Boy, who constructed this surface, which is an immersion of the real projective plane in Euclidean 3-space, in 1901 in his thesis. The doctoral adviser was David Hilbert. The model of the Boy surface in front of the Institute's library building has 3-fold rotational symmetry and minimizes the Willmore functional which measures elastic energy.

On January 28th, 1991, it was installed at the MFO as a gift of Mercedes-Benz. The model is based on computations of Hermann Karcher, Ulrich Pinkall and Ivan Sterling at Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in Bonn.

Some technical data

Made by steel plate V4A, thickness 2 mm.
Weight: 84 kg.
Fixed with 772 rivets through 1650 holes.

The article Die Boysche Fläche in Oberwolfach (209 KB, 3 pages, in German) of H. Karcher and U. Pinkall in Mitteilungen der DMV, issue 1 (1997), is reproduced with kind permission of DMV.