WIRED Science

Season 2007 Episode 10.17.07

Demo: Origami Master Robert Lang

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Demo: Origami Master Robert Lang
AIRED:
Origami: its not just about folding up pieces of paper to make those little cranes anymore. Physicist Robert Lang has made a science of this ancient Japanese art. In more than 30 years of practicing the craft, Lang has created more than 400 unique designs, some of them among the most complex ever seen - from elaborately detailed models of beetles and dinosaurs to kaleidoscopic geometric abstractions. His paperwork has been exhibited in galleries around the world. How does he do it? By combining a deep appreciation for traditional aesthetics with advanced mathematics and computer modeling, using software he developed, to discover never-before-seen combinations of folds and hitherto unimagined ways to layer sequential single creases onto a piece of paper. It's a sub-discipline he calls "computational origami". His forms have function, too. Lang has applied his expertise in folded surfaces to solve several real-world engineering problems such as how to make big flat things small so they can be easily stored and transported until needed. What kinds of things? Start with automobile airbags, which Lang has helped design. Now try to get your head around a lens the size of a football field for a gigantic telescope that the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wants to put in space. Lang was called in and came up with a flower-like design, with each "petal" representing a glass panel attached to the central area by means of hinges. The whole thing folds down into a fraction of its original size for the rocket ride and can be re-expanded into a continuous flat disc once in space. Between his industrial consulting and prolific writing - he has authored several books on mathematics and origami - Lang now makes his living as a full-time origami artist.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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