properties of regular tetrahedron

The angles between the four half-lines from the centroid $M$ of the regular tetrahedron to the vertices (http://planetmath.org/Polyhedron) are $2\arctan\!{\sqrt{2}}$ ($\approx 109^{\circ}$), which is equal the angle between the four covalent bonds of a carbon .  A half of this angle, $\alpha$, can be found from the right triangle  in the below figure, where the catheti are $\frac{s}{\sqrt{2}}$ and $\frac{s}{2}$.

One can consider the regular tetrahedron as a cone.  Let its edge be $a$ and its height $h$.  Because of symmetry   , a height line intersects the corresponding base triangle in the centroid of this equilateral triangle  .  Thus we have (see the below ) the rectangular triangle with hypotenuse  $a$, one cathetus $h$ and the other cathetus (http://planetmath.org/Cathetus)  $\frac{2}{3}\!\cdot\!\frac{a\sqrt{3}}{2}=\frac{a}{\sqrt{3}}$  (i.e. $\frac{2}{3}$ of the median (http://planetmath.org/Median) $\frac{a\sqrt{3}}{2}$ of the equilateral triangle — see the common point of triangle medians).  The Pythagorean theorem   then gives

 $h\;=\;\sqrt{a^{2}-\left(\frac{a}{\sqrt{3}}\right)^{2}}\;=\;\frac{a\sqrt{6}}{3}.$

Consequently, the height of the regular tetrahedron is $\displaystyle\frac{a\sqrt{6}}{3}$.

Since the area of the base triangle (http://planetmath.org/EquilateralTriangle) is $\frac{a^{2}\sqrt{3}}{4}$, the volume (one third of the product of the base and the height) of the regular tetrahedron is $\displaystyle\frac{a^{3}\sqrt{2}}{12}$.

Title properties of regular tetrahedron PropertiesOfRegularTetrahedron 2013-03-22 18:29:39 2013-03-22 18:29:39 pahio (2872) pahio (2872) 15 pahio (2872) Topic msc 51E99 regular tetrahedron Grafix DehnsTheorem Tetrahedron