A lot of arithmetic geometry has to do and took off with constructions or proofs of non-constructibility of specific figures only with ruler and compass. See e.g. the non-constructibility of the regular heptagon and the constructibility of the regular heptadecagon by Gauss.
I wonder what it means that there is a simple device that can be constructed with the help of a ruler and a compass that together with ruler and compass allows to construct arbitrary regular polygons very easily.
The device is nothing but a solid cone of finite height and a flexible string of length smaller than the circumference of the cone.
Now arrange $n$ dots on the string at equal distances and close the string such that also the first and the last dot have the same distance. I.e. you arrange $n$ dots equally on a closed string. This can be achieved with a compass alone.
After that you place the string on the cone, keeping all dots at same height until they all touch the cone. Projecting them vertically on the plane gives the corners of a regular $n$-gon.
Note that the cone is not a magic device like the angle trisector which may help to construct a rectangular heptagon, but adds nothing genuinely new to ruler and compass (because it can be constructed with the help of these). On the other hand, a flexible string is enough to create a ruler (as a physical device), and you need two rulers to make a compass. So a string might be enough for everything, in a specific sense? Note further, that angle trisectors - and more generally angle $k$-sectors - can easily be constructed for any angle $\alpha = 2\pi / n$: just place $kn$ dots on the string.
My question is:
Is there something wrong with my device? Might it be not constructible with the help of ruler and compass alone? Do other parts of the described procedure add something else beyond ruler and compass (the cone itself is supposed not to)?
I guess, it's leaving the plane that "disqualifies" this kind of construction. Might this have to do with leaving the real number line and entering the complex plane when solving polynomial equations? ("Suddenly all polynomial equations can be solved!")
On the other hand: The compass is a genuinely three-dimensional device, too!
[Counter-historical note: If geometers would not have restricted themselves (deliberately?) to ruler and compass, there would have been no necessity to study the constructibilty of regular $n$-gons - and lots of arithmetic might not have been discovered (or only considerably later). On the other side: Wouldn't complex numbers have been discovered earlier, when the cone device had been considered more seriously?]