Epidermis-Honeycomb-Water Cube 表皮-蜂巢-水立方

130 years ago, Lord Kelvin asked how space might be partitioned into cells of fixed equal volume with minimum surface area [1]? Although his work was dismissed as “a pure waste of time” by his colleagues, he worked out through intensive calculation and proposed a fourteen-face shape (tetradecahedron) that when positioned together formed a beautiful honeycomb like structure.


The outermost layer of our skin is called epidermis which is made up of between fifty and one hundred layers of keratinocytes. Scientists [2,3] discovered that our keratinocytes adopt this unique fourteen-face shape structures. So even though our skin cells are always on the move before flaking off, the surface contacts between cells and so tight and ordered that water still can not get through. It turns out that our skin is the ideal waterproof foam.

Keratinocytes creata a fine but formidable outer defence, protecting the trillions of cells inside our body. Coated in antimicrobial molecules and acids, our outer defences of the epidermis are chemically and physically designed to keep out unwanted visitors, from insects, bacterial, virus to irritants, and to keep in moisture.


Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
— Isaiah 40:28 NIV




你岂不曾知道吗? 你岂不曾听见吗?
永在的上帝耶和华,创造地极的主, 并不疲乏,也不困倦;
— 以赛亚书 40:28


  1. Thomson, W. (1887) On the division of space with minimal partitional area. Philosophical Magazine. 24: 503
  2. Mariko Yokouchi, Toru Atsugi, Mark van Logtestijn etc. Epidermal cell turnover across tight junctions based on Kelvin’s tetrakaidecahedron cell shape. eLife 2016;5:e19593 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.19593
  3. Mariko Yokouchi Akiharu Kubo. Maintenance of tight junction barrier integrity in cell turnover and skin diseases. Experimental Dermatology, August 2018. Volume 27, Issue 8, Pages 876-883