The simplest generalization of a Steiner chain is to allow the given circles to touch or intersect one another. In the former case, this corresponds to a Pappus chain, which has an infinite number of circles.

Soddy's hexlet is a three-dimensional generalization of a Steiner chain of six circles. The centers of the six spheres (the

*hexlet*) travel along the same ellipse as do the centers of the corresponding Steiner chain. The envelope of the hexlet spheres is a Dupin cyclide, the inversion of a torus. The six spheres are not only tangent to the inner and outer sphere, but also to two other spheres, centered above and below the plane of the hexlet centers.
Multiple rings of Steiner chains are another generalization. An ordinary Steiner chain is obtained by inverting an annular chain of tangent circles bounded by two concentric circles. This may be generalized to inverting three or more concentric circles that sandwich annular chains of tangent circles.

Hierarchical Steiner chains are yet another generalization. If the two given circles of an ordinary Steiner chain are nested, i.e., if one lies entirely within the other, then the larger given circle circumscribes the Steiner-chain circles. In a hierarchical Steiner chain, each circle of a Steiner chain is itself the circumscribing given circle of another Steiner chain within it; this process may be repeated indefinitely, forming a fractal.

My problem is with that of Soddy's annular hexlet n-6. If the center sphere acts on the other 6 spheres and all of those sphere are rotating in the same direction then how do these spheres rotate as not to cause a point of friction between them?

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