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Department of Physics Colloquium

Monday, November 4, 2013 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Rockefeller Hall, Schwartz Auditorium
Central Campus

Physics Colloquium, Robert Lang, Lang Origami. Refreshments at 3:30 PM.

Title: From Flapping Birds to Space Telescopes: The Mathematics of Origami

Abstract: The last decade of this past century has been witness to a revolution in the development and application of mathematical techniques to origami, the centuries-old Japanese art of paper-folding. The techniques used in mathematical origami design range from the abstruse to the highly approachable. In this talk, I will describe how geometric concepts led to the solution of a broad class of origami folding problems – specifically, the problem of efficiently folding a shape with an arbitrary number and arrangement of flaps, and along the way, enabled origami designs of mind-blowing complexity and realism, some of which you’ll see, too. As often happens in mathematics, theory originally developed for its own sake has led to some surprising practical applications. The algorithms and theorems of origami design have shed light on long-standing mathematical questions and have solved practical engineering problems. I will discuss examples of how origami has enabled safer airbags, Brobdingnagian space telescopes, and more.

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