Origami

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If you’re here from the Glee Club Scavenger Hunt, you really want to follow this link
Tonight I went to hang out with Breath, the birthday boy, and we celebrated by going to a lecture in building 32 (aka the Stata Center). Now, before you berate us for being nerds, this was a lecture on origami given by Robert Lang and I thought it was a fine way to celebrate a birthday. I mean, we got to make party favors and everything.
The first thing he talked about was the one-cut theorem, proved by Erik Demaine, who lectured 6.046 when Breath and I took it, even though he is barely older than us. The theorem states that you can cut any shape or collection of shapes that you want out of a piece of paper with only one cut, provided that you fold it correctly. To demonstrate, we first made a five pointed star, which is rather trivial. But the complicated finale piece (which took us about an hour to fold) was the MIT Logo. (The new ugly one, not the old seal — it wasn’t that complicated.) Breath took some pictures and movies, which I’ll link to as soon as he posts them.
And then came the really cool math and artsy stuff — this guy is amazing. He explained his disk packing algorithm and TreeMaker program that allows him to create pretty much any origami shape you can imagine. The artistry of it blows my mind. There’s the fish which is all one piece of paper, no cuts. If that’s not cool enough for you, there’s also the organ player — if you pull her head, her arms move across the piano as if she was playing it. She’s also just one piece of paper. In fact, most of his stuff is one piece of paper — his website has bunch of pictures.
He said he has spent up to three days folding one piece. I was tired after spending an hour. But the best part is that this stuff is actually applicable to the real world. They’ve apparently made origami stents for heart patients that expand after you insert them. It’s also been applied to airbags and telescopes. This is by far the coolest application of math theory I have seen in a long time.
Okay, fine… we’re nerds. Berate away.

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4 responses »

  1. i think it’s funny that his name is so similar to robert langer, the shining star professor of course 10. the organizers posted it in bldg 66, too.

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