Origami and Mathematics, Oh My!

So many of us have either made or have seen our friends make origami cranes or even something more intricate.  If you have ever taken a cruise, you may wonder if the person who cleans your room is skilled in origami, as your towels and rags end up on your bed in all sorts of animal shapes.

What is origami?  It is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding.  Instructions exist in books, on the internet, and on videos for taking one square of paper and folding it over and over to make all kinds of figures.  For a long time, the figures could only get to a certain complexity.  Then, along came some very creative mathematicians armed with computers.  Suddenly, blueprints for very complex figures could be created with algorithms.  If you would like to see more, check out the movie “Between the Folds” on PBS.

Between The Folds

Or, watch the TED talk.

Robert Lang New Origami TED Talk

This recreational fun has transformed into a way to tackle all kinds of modern dilemmas such as how to fold an airbag in a vehicle, how to fold an antenna array to send out to space, how to create an expandable stent for an artery, and so forth.  A mix of mathematics and art seems to have no bounds!


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