Daily Archives: 9th February

Shapes of equal width

Circular objects roll because a circle is a shape of equal width. No matter where you measure from, the distance from one side to the other (through the centre) is the same. But circles aren’t the only shape with this property.

Two British coins are shapes of equal width: the 20p (21.4 mm) and 50p (27.3 mm) coin. Having an equal width makes the coins able to roll and prevents them from getting stuck in machinery. Shapes of equal width also make good manhole covers; because no “side” is any shorter than any other, it is impossible for the cover to fall down the manhole. Circles are easiest to make which is why most manhole covers are circular.