Keith Vetter 2002-09-22 : Why are manhole covers round? One answer is that they are the simplest shape which won't fall in on themselves.

But what about other "non-simplest" shapes that meet this criteria? This program draws one family of those non-simplest shapes.

To visualize what the family of shapes looks like, take an odd-side polygon, place on point of a compass on a vertex, the other on an opposite vertex, and draw the arc to the other opposite vertex. Repeat for all vertices.

People in the UK will quite possibly have the heptagonal version of this family of shapes in their pocket (it is the shape of the 20p and 50p coins.) - *DKF*

Likewise, the Susan B Anthony dollar coin in the US is the endecagonal version. - *KBK*

(Bryan Oakley prefers the answer "because manholes are round".)

AMG: David Farley offers another answer: http://www.ibiblio.org/Dave/Dr-Fun/collections/1991/images/df1991-102.gif

Larry Smith For extra credit: why are manhole covers in Nashua NH triangular? (correct answer: they were designed by the same guy who designed the triangular ones in New York City. What? You haven't noticed any triangular manhole covers in NYC? No surprise, they've all been replaced. And they are slowly being replaced in Nashua, too - but there are still a handful left, for those folks willing to cruise the streets of Nashua to see such historical plumbing trivia. The answer is: the tips are supported at three points and so the covers will not rock when cars drive over them.)

Boy, I really like that all the trivia is at the top of this page, instead of at the bottom where it might get overlooked. Anyway, manhole covers are (usually) round because:

- They are damn heavy, and round ones don't need to be finessed as much to make them drop into their seat. As a matter of fact, an experienced operator can often get the thing to seat itself by application of a bit of english on the drop. This makes the manhole cover designer of Nashua seem particularly diabolical. Also consider that with a triangular cover you run the oh-so-real risk of having a shifted manhole cover fall into the hole far enough to take your head off if you are in the position of having to shift one from the nether side.
- A round manhole and cover can sustain more damage and still serve effectively.
- They are damn heavy and round ones can be rolled if you are crazy enough to roll one.
- If you set your feet down, and hump a round manhole cover away from you, it will never land on your toes.

If you can't guess who wrote this I'm not doing my job **;^)**

I will keep my round manhole cover, thank you!

#! /bin/env tclsh ##+########################################################################## # # Manhole.tcl # # Draws N-sided manhole covers # by Keith Vetter # # Revisions: # KPV Mar 22, 1996 - initial revision # KPV Sep 22, 2002 - cleaned up for 8+ # package require Tk proc Init {} { global sz set sz(n) 3 ;# Number of sides set sz(s) 400 ;# Size of canvas set sz(cx) [expr {$sz(s) / 2}] ;# Canvas center point set sz(cy) $sz(cx) set sz(r) [expr {$sz(cx) * 3 / 4}] ;# Radius set sz(rot) 0 ;# How much to rotate by set sz(anim) 0 ;# No animation yet set sz(after) "" ;# No after yet set sz(a) 0 ;# Interior angle to fill in set sz(colored) 1 ;# Colored or solid set colors "cyan green magenta blue deepskyblue hotpink aquamarine " append colors $colors for {set i 0} {$i < 13} {incr i} { set sz($i) [lindex $colors $i] } canvas .c -width $sz(s) -height $sz(s) -bd 2 -relief raised .c config -bg black .c create oval [expr {$sz(cx)-$sz(r)}] [expr {$sz(cy)-$sz(r)}] \ [expr {$sz(cx)+$sz(r)}] [expr {$sz(cy)+$sz(r)}] -tag circle \ -fill [lindex [.c config -bg] 3] button .anim -text Animate -command {Animate 1} label .l -text "Sides: $sz(n)" scale .s -orient h -showvalue 0 -from 0 -to 5 -command MyScale pack .c -side top pack .anim -side right -expand 1 pack .s .l -side bottom -expand 1 wm resizable . 0 0 } ##+########################################################################## # # ngon # # Compute the vertices for a n-gon # proc ngon {n angle} { global v sz catch {unset v} set delta [expr {2*3.14159 / $n}] ;# Angle of vertices on circle set sz(delta) [expr {360.0 / $n}] set sz(a) [expr {180.0 / $n}] ;# Interior angle to fill in set angle [expr {$angle * 3.14159 / 180}] for {set i 0} {$i < $n} {incr i} { set a [expr {$angle + ($i*$delta)}] ;# Angle in radians set v($i,x) [expr {$sz(cx) + $sz(r) * cos($a)}] set v($i,y) [expr {$sz(cy) + $sz(r) * sin($a)}] set i2 [expr {$i + $n}] set v($i2,x) $v($i,x) set v($i2,y) $v($i,y) lappend vertices $v($i,x) $v($i,y) } set n2 [expr {$n/2}] ;# Opposite angle set x [expr {$v(0,x) - $v($n2,x)}] set y [expr {$v(0,y) - $v($n2,y)}] set sz(d) [expr {sqrt($x*$x + $y*$y)}] ;# Length of opposite side for {set i 0} {$i < $n} {incr i} { set v($i,bb) [list [expr {$v($i,x)-$sz(d)}] [expr {$v($i,y)+$sz(d)}] \ [expr {$v($i,x)+$sz(d)}] [expr {$v($i,y)-$sz(d)}]] set i2 [expr {$i + 1}] set n2 [expr {($i + ($sz(n) / 2) + 1) % $sz(n)}] set xy [list $sz(cx) $sz(cy) $v($i,x) $v($i,y) $v($i2,x) $v($i2,y)] .c create poly $xy -fill $sz($n2) -outline $sz($n2) \ -tag {poly poly_$i} } return $vertices } ##+########################################################################## # # DrawPie # # Draws a single pie slice for vertex which. # proc DrawPie {which} { global v sz if {$which == 0} { set n2 [expr {$which + ($sz(n) / 2) + 1}] ;# Opposite angle set x [expr {$v($n2,x) - $v($which,x)}] set y [expr {-($v($n2,y) - $v($which,y))}] set a [expr {atan2( $y, $x) * 180 / 3.14159}] set sz(atan) $a } else { set a [set sz(atan) [expr {$sz(atan) - $sz(delta)}]] } eval .c create arc $v($which,bb) -start $a -extent $sz(a) -style chord \ -fill $sz($which) -outline $sz($which) -tag {{pie pie_$which}} } ##+########################################################################## # # DrawIt # # Draws the n-side manhole cover w/ sz(n) sides at angle sz(rot). # proc DrawIt {} { global sz .c delete pie poly ngon $sz(n) $sz(rot) ;# Get vertices for this angle for {set i 0} {$i < $sz(n)} {incr i} { ;# Draw the pie slices DrawPie $i } update } ##+########################################################################## # # Animate # # Draw the figure rotated by a small amount, then if animation is on, # it schedules itself to be run again in the near future. # proc Animate {toggle} { global sz if {$toggle} { ;# On/off toggle set sz(anim) [expr {1 - $sz(anim)}] ;# Toggle to flag if {$sz(anim)} {set relief sunken} {set relief raised} .anim config -relief $relief } if $sz(anim) { ;# Are we animating??? incr sz(rot) 3 ;# Rotate a bit DrawIt ;# Redraw it after 1 {Animate 0} ;# Rerun in the future } } ##+########################################################################## # # MyScale # # Command called when scale gets a new value # proc MyScale {v} { set ::sz(n) [expr {$v*2+3}] .l config -text "Sides: $::sz(n)" DrawIt } ################################################################ ################################################################ ################################################################ Init DrawIt