Peter Ruane has provided an excellent short history of problems involving sequences of touching circles.
P. Ruane, "The Curious Rectangles of Rollett and Rees," The Mathematical Gazette
(503), 2001 pp. 208–225. DOI:10.2307/3622006
Ruane's exposition was the Mathematical Gazette
's article of the year in 2001. A sample copy may be found on the website of the Highland District of the Scottish Bridge Union, whose chairman, Bill Richardson, is the production editor of the Gazette.
In the late 1920s the poet Robert Graves spoke of endless enclosure within enclosure, a parcel, blocks of slate, dappled red and green, yellow tawny nets, acres of dominoes, a fruit's kernel, an island tree, again a parcel, and on in endless enclosure within enclosure. Today we might call this class-2 nested behavior with hints of gnarly class-4 behavior.
R. Graves, "Warning to Children," The Complete Poems
, Penguin Books, 2003 p. 297.
Grave's poem was featured on the Saturday January 5, 2008 Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. A transcript
and an audio recording