Tetrahedron - Properties of A General Tetrahedron

Properties of A General Tetrahedron

The tetrahedron has many properties analogous to those of a triangle, including an insphere, circumsphere, medial tetrahedron, and exspheres. It has respective centers such as incenter, circumcenter, excenters, Spieker center and points such as a centroid. However, there is generally no orthocenter in the sense of intersecting altitudes. The circumsphere of the medial tetrahedron is analogous to the triangle's nine-point circle, but does not generally pass through the base points of the altitudes of the reference tetrahedron.

Gaspard Monge found a center that exists in every tetrahedron, now known as the Monge point: the point where the six midplanes of a tetrahedron intersect. A midplane is defined as a plane that is orthogonal to an edge joining any two vertices that also contains the centroid of an opposite edge formed by joining the other two vertices. If the tetrahedron's altitudes do intersect, then the Monge point and the orthocenter coincide to give the class of orthocentric tetrahedron.

An orthogonal line dropped from the Monge point to any face meets that face at the midpoint of the line segment between that face's orthocenter and the foot of the altitude dropped from the opposite vertex.

A line segment joining a vertex of a tetrahedron with the centroid of the opposite face is called a median and a line segment joining the midpoints of two opposite edges is called a bimedian of the tetrahedron. Hence there are four medians and three bimedians in a tetrahedron. These seven line segments are all concurrent at a point called the centroid of the tetrahedron. The centroid of a tetrahedron is the midpoint between its Monge point and circumcenter. These points define the Euler line of the tetrahedron that is analogous to the Euler line of a triangle.

The nine-point circle of the general triangle has an analogue in the circumsphere of a tetrahedron's medial tetrahedron. It is the twelve-point sphere and besides the centroids of the four faces of the reference tetrahedron, it passes through four substitute Euler points, 1/3 of the way from the Monge point toward each of the four vertices. Finally it passes through the four base points of orthogonal lines dropped from each Euler point to the face not containing the vertex that generated the Euler point.

The center T of the twelve-point sphere also lies on the Euler line. Unlike its triangular counterpart, this center lies 1/3 of the way from the Monge point M towards the circumcenter. Also, an orthogonal line through T to a chosen face is coplanar with two other orthogonal lines to the same face. The first is an orthogonal line passing through the corresponding Euler point to the chosen face. The second is an orthogonal line passing through the centroid of the chosen face. This orthogonal line through the twelve-point center lies midway between the Euler point orthogonal line and the centroidal orthogonal line. Furthermore, for any face, the twelve-point center lies at the midpoint of the corresponding Euler point and the orthocenter for that face.

The radius of the twelve-point sphere is 1/3 of the circumradius of the reference tetrahedron.

There is a relation among the angles made by the faces of a general tetrahedron given by

\begin{vmatrix} -1 & \cos{(\alpha_{12})} & \cos{(\alpha_{13})} & \cos{(\alpha_{14})}\\
\cos{(\alpha_{12})} & -1 & \cos{(\alpha_{23})} & \cos{(\alpha_{24})} \\
\cos{(\alpha_{13})} & \cos{(\alpha_{23})} & -1 & \cos{(\alpha_{34})} \\
\cos{(\alpha_{14})} & \cos{(\alpha_{24})} & \cos{(\alpha_{34})} & -1 \\ \end{vmatrix} = 0\,

where is the angle between the faces i and j.

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