On Sphere-Filling Ropes
What is the longest rope on the unit sphere? Intuition tells us that the answer to this packing problem depends on the rope's thickness. For a countably infinite number of prescribed thickness values we construct and classify all solution curves. The simplest ones are similar to the seam lines of a tennis ball; others exhibit a striking resemblance to Turing patterns in chemistry, or to ordered phases of long elastic rods stuffed into spherical shells.