Wednesday, February 15, 2017

PBS Nova: "The Origami Revolution"

PBS Nova produced a stunning documentary “The Origami Revolution”, aired tonight at 9 PM EST.
The documentary traced a Japanese art form of folding flat sheets of paper into an understanding of how most or all of nature is predicated on origami.  In biology, leaves fold as origami into fractals.  In organic chemistry, bonds seem to follow origami, as does the formation of proteins, viruses, and now appropriate drugs to counter them (like PrEP).

In designing space craft, origami can be used to define space structures that can unfold as deployed.

Bullet-proof vests can be designed according to origami folds.

The program especially focused on the work of 35-year-old MIT professor Erik Demaine, who has produced mathematical proofs that almost any structure can be approximated by origamis (papers {
"The Fold-and-Cut Problem"} here and {"Folding and Cutting Paper"} here).

In cosmology, dark matter seems to fold by origami, with conventional baryonic matter galaxies forming along the folds.

Wikipedia notes Jack Andraka’s interest in origami, contributing to the intuition that led to his pancreatic cancer detection test. (Sorry, Jack, I misspelled “oragami” in my tweet;  no spell check, corrected it in subsequent general tweets with the hashtag.)   Reid Ewing’s display of Japanese art (from manga and Dangaronpa) on his twitter feed seems based on origami.

Wouldn’t carbon nanotubes (for many new medical tests) be created as origami?

Origami can be protected by copyright law (and very likely patent), which could certainly generate future litigation even in areas like pharmaceuticals.  However the existence of academic mathematical proofs for existence of various folds might argue for “fair use”.  In that sense, origami could have the same status as chess openings or chess endgame problems.

PBS had aired a longer Independent Lens feature film on Origami in 2009. It was titled "Between the Folds: Art, Imitating Life".

Wikipedia attribution link (p.d.) for art work made by folding dollar bills.

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