Origami in the News

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Godzilla likes to fold origami. So do many others. Robert J. Lang, for example, has a great web page with some beautiful origami creations. Lang’s work is art, but his expertise has also been used to solve science problems.

One such problem is how to get a really big telescope into space. Bigger than the Hubble telescope. A lot bigger: the lens of the planned telescope is 100 meters, compared to 2½ meters for the Hubble. The solution that Lang worked on was to fold the lens so that it would be small enough to fit in a rocket, but could unfold in space and work. There’s a picture of a prototype (still bigger than Hubble’s lens) and a much more detailed story of the problem and solution here.

Another problem has to do with airbags: how can airbags be folded so that, as they are released, they are strong enough to prevent injury in an accident but flexible enough to avoid causing injury themselves? To address this, Lang used principles of origami rendered into computer code. A video and the complete story are available here.

I learned of Lang’s work through this article on MAA Online a few days ago.

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One Response to “Origami in the News”

  1. YourTutorOnline Says:

    The Myth Busters (Discovery Channel) did an episode on the 7-paper-fold myth. I wonder that they could help out.

    They don’t dig into the math too much, but it is quite entertaining to watch them figure this one out. They go to an abandoned NASA hangar and fold the world’s largest piece of tracing paper…9 times I think.

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