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Library of Babel 3D

Experience the Library of Babel from the short story by Jorge Luis Borges in 3D · By Keiwan

Spiral Staircase

A topic by Ludwig-1954 created Jan 03, 2018 Views: 512 Replies: 3
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It seems, at least using virtual reality, that the angle of rotation of the staircase between two stories is 90 degrees. If you design the library as a tessalation of space with repeating hexagonal pillars - as the sim implies when looking up and down the shafts, you will face a wall when reaching the top or bottom of a flight of stairs.

I would suggest an angle of 60 degrees rotation. This way, every cell on a floor can be reached from every othe cell by climbing and descending stairs for one flight.

With most other angles parallel rows on the same floor cannot be reached. 

If 90 degrees is preferred, all planes must be rotated by 30 (90 or 270) degrees against eachother, changing the look of the shafts. 

Did you know, that there exists one room that is filled with only 385 books in the complete library (number of books modulo 640). Perhaps the reception area? 


The staircases do have a rotation of 60 degrees and not 90. It's exactly because of the reason you just explained, namely to ensure that every hexagon is reachable, especially the ones on the same floor that you are currently on. Right now you can go to a neighbouring hexagon that is not directly connected to the one you're in via a hallway by walking up a staircase, walking to the next hallway and then walking back down a staircase.

Here's a sketch of the library structure I made back when I was trying to figure out how I needed to design everything for it to work:


Sorry Keiwan, no insult intended. There seems to be a flaw in my Android VR implementation. I get differebt readings every time I "walk" a flight of stairs, up or down. Even when using a tripod and a protractor. 

My mistake. 

How were you planning to deal with the mirrors mentioned in the text? 

And how many books per board are you assuming? 32 or the 30 mentioned later in the text?

What is your opinion on the toilet and sleeping cupboards? The current beehive setup gives two of each per cell. A bit much considering that 1 librarian is in charge of three cells. 

Btw. I use Wolfram for the calculations, it neatly handles large numbers. 


Oh, I didn't take it as an insult at all. I apologize if it seemed like I did :) 

There are certainly a lot of flaws with my implementation, and I definitely believe you when you say that the VR movement is not very accurate. When I run it on my phone and do a 360° turn (in real life) I end up with an offset of about 20° between the library and the real world. The offset also seems to be related to how fast I move my phone around and generally how accurate the gyroscope of my device is (I get a slightly more accurate experience on my iPad). So it wouldn't surprise me if you experienced an even larger offset on a different phone. 

I dealt with the mirror by simply not including it :) Since there is no actual character for the player but only a camera floating in space it would have either ruined the illusion of you really being in the library, or I would have had to find a nice-looking model and added that in, which just seemed like too much work for a small detail (and it probably wouldn't even have looked very nice). 

The reason why I didn't include the toilet and sleeping cupboard was purely because of a lack of space. There really isn't a lot of space left between the staircase and the hexagon walls and I didn't want to resize everything to make it fit.

Oh and there are 32 books per shelf.