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The Origami Resolution

Article #308 • Written by Ben Taylor

Goliath Beetle, robert j. lang origami
Goliath Beetle, robert j. lang origami

Since childhood Dr. Robert Lang has practiced origami. It was the convergence of his intensely creative mind and this ancient Japanese tradition that gave rise to his unique style of origami, which he developed into a renewed art and ultimately a science of practical application.

His intricate paper insect creations were a departure from the standard boats and cranes that have long been the tradition of origami. Over time his works grew more complex, featuring hundreds of folds and multiple pieces of paper, such as a full-scale cuckoo clock. Between his efforts to earn a PhD in applied physics, his job at NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory, his eighty technical papers, and his forty-six patents in optoelectronics and lasers, he somehow found time to implement and evolve a number of original origami designs.

The practicality of his scientific research began to influence his origami designs, until the line between the two began to blur. He participated in a project at EASi Engineering to develop complicated crease patterns for airbag folding designs. Lang also worked to design a mesh wire heart support to be folded and implanted in congestive heart failure patients; once inside, it would expand, protecting the heart. His most ambitious project to date, however, is shared with a team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, with whom he has developed a space telescope – one that is forty times larger than the Hubble and collapsible for space travel through a series of precise origami folds.

Though origami has been practiced in Japan for over four hundred years, some consider the master to be the late Akira Yoshizawa, born 1911. At 26 Yoshizawa left his job to pursue the art of origami. Living at the edge of poverty he sold soup door-to-door while practicing his designs. He finally achieved recognition at 43 when he was commissioned to create a series of origami zodiac figures for the magazine Asahi Graph. From that point his influence extended to the west and eventually Europe where he was invited to display his work at the Louvre in 1998. It was masters like Yoshizawa who elevated the obscure hobby of origami to a respected art form and complex pursuit, which in time would capture the imagination and analytical mind of people like Dr. Robert Lang.

Robert Lang and a five meter prototype of the origami lens.
Robert Lang and a five meter prototype of the origami lens.

Approaching the challenge of seeing further into space begins with the task of constructing a larger lens, thereby allowing more light to be gathered and sharper images to be produced. Constructing a large scale orbital telescope was the goal of the Diffractive Optics Group at the Livermore Laboratory. The Hubble, a reflective telescope, utilizes a curved mirror to see objects; whereas the new telescope would be designed using the principals of a transmissive telescope, which uses two separate lenses. For this endeavor a special diffractive lens would be used. This type of lens relies on microscopic, concentric circular grooves etched on the surface, which essentially create a hologram of a lens.

However, this was only the beginning: the project called for the lens to be 100 meters in diameter. Though space vehicles vary in design they all have similar limited payload space, 4 meters in diameter and 100 10 meters long. The lens would have to somehow fit in this narrow compartment shaft to be launched into space. This is where Dr. Robert Lang entered the picture. The Diffractive Optics Group contacted Dr. Lang and requested a visit. After examining the problem, Lang explored various origami designs that could be applied to the lens. It became evident that through a limited number of collapsible facets, the size of the lens could be reduced with origami folds while maintaining the integrity of the surface once expanded in space.

Though the design is unique, the concept has been explored in the past. In the 1980s a Japanese space research team needed to engineer an unfolding solar panel as part of a satellite design. They called on scientist Dr. Koryo Mirua to approach the task. Mirua, proficient in origami, once explored methods of folding maps so that they may be unfolded with one simple pull of a corner. This method, the Mirua-ori origami pattern, became the basis for various solar arrays. Later in 2005, Harvard scientist Dr. Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan published findings that nature exhibits this same pattern in the folding of a leaf and its internal framework. In fact, this pattern can also be found in wings and flower petals, which begin as folded structures.

Allosaurus Skeleton, robert j. lang origami
Allosaurus Skeleton, robert j. lang origami

Dr. Lang and the telescope team eventually agreed upon an umbrella-like folding structure which would allow it to fit in a rocket’s cargo hold. The expanded lens would have to be perfectly symmetrical to allow spin-stabilization to occur properly when it is positioned in orbit 25,000 miles away from Earth. The full size lens will consist of 72 separate pieces of glass, each piece only 7 millimeters thick. The multifaceted design also provides durability. If a meteoroid shatters one or even several pieces of the glass, the lens will still be capable of producing images. The two lenses will not be connected physically; rather they’ll orbit the Earth thousands of meters apart, using precision thrusters to maintain their relative positions and alignment. The “eyepiece” lens will double as a communication module, storing the images and transmitting them home. This revolution in design will allow scientists to gaze ten times further into space.

Though a promising concept, many other technical issues would have to be addressed in the development phase. One such issue would be achieving a smooth surface when unfolded. Many of these hurdles would have to be worked out during the design of a prototype, a process that continues to this day.

Dr. Lang has also harnessed the power of computer technology to explore the future of origami. His TreeMaker software can translate crude stick-figure images into original origami patterns, and his ReferenceFinder program translates these computer-generated patterns into human-readable instructions.

Now a full time origami artist, Dr. Lang often creates figures freely without the burden of unanswered scientific questions or looming deadlines. The simplicity and elegance of the craft still has enormous draw despite the technology afforded by his programs and special laser paper cutters. Often he sells his creations, the most popular is a free standing nine inch tall bull moose. Other animal creations can be found in his books such as The Complete Book of Origami.

Origami moose, robert j. lang origami
Origami moose, robert j. lang origami

His acumen for paper folding has not only attracted the attention of scientists, but also artists. He has worked with various production companies to produce animated origami sequences for products like the Toyota Avalon. A more ambitious project involved creating a world entirely out of origami figures for a Mitsubishi Endeavor TV spot. A recent McDonald’s commercial features Dr. Lang’s talents in the form of numerous origami figures crafted from cheeseburger wrappers.

Perhaps the latticework of creases makes the art form its own best metaphor, illustrating its ability to shape, join, and intersect so many areas of inquiry. In spite of its age, the ancient multi-faceted discipline continues to offer useful insights within the realms of art, science and humanity.

Article written by Ben Taylor, published on 04 January 2008. Ben is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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82 Comments
FIRST
Posted 04 January 2008 at 02:27 pm

FIRST BITCHES


FixitDave
Posted 04 January 2008 at 02:41 pm

What's with all this "First"...I bet you don't even read the article before you post lol


Dean
Posted 04 January 2008 at 03:21 pm

He is the coolest guy ever. That beetle is amazing! DI!


vongarr
Posted 04 January 2008 at 03:29 pm

Can't say I found this DI.


adwkiwi
Posted 04 January 2008 at 04:01 pm

FixitDave said: "What's with all this "First"…I bet you don't even read the article before you post lol"

It's a bad habit the rest of the internet gave up as VERY ANNOYING a long time ago.

I've only recently found the site, and I'm loving it. This is pretty cool, the relationship between geometry and these art forms is intriguing and I love the fact that these kinds of folding solutions show up in nature.


shandar
Posted 04 January 2008 at 04:16 pm

"Though space vehicles vary in design they all have similar limited payload space, 4 meters in diameter and 100 meters long." 100 meters long? That is... huge. Bet NASA would love that thing, you'd be able to fit most of the ISS in it.


Gigbo Renfrack
Posted 04 January 2008 at 04:47 pm

4 meters in diameter and 10 meters long is a lot closer to reality. An extra zero crept in from the intended diameter of the lens mentioned, almost certainly. Correction and/or fact check (with documentation if the original number is to be believed) please?

Along with the Bigelow Space inflatables, this has lots of potential. The basic concept has been used in several spy sattelite systems as well as the better-documented ISS and interplanetary probes.


QP
Posted 04 January 2008 at 05:45 pm

Interesting, but not as good as some of the past articles. This one read too much like a biography --- it focused a bit on the foldable space lens thingamajig, but half the article seemed like random facts about Robert Lang/origami. I guess the good articles tell a story, is what I'm trying to say.

Subject matter is spot-on, though. I read The Complete Book of Origami when I was younger and loved it. I must've folded dozens of origami biplanes...


Paul_in_SF
Posted 04 January 2008 at 05:49 pm

Happy New Year, DI!

Not a bad start to the new year. I'm looking forward to some new content on this wonderful site.

Thanks!


oldmancoyote
Posted 04 January 2008 at 07:39 pm

Gotta agree, the beetle is way cool. We definately don't have a launch vehicle with a 100 meter cargo bay. My question is,"when the lens unfolds, what do we do if it refolds into a duck?"


Web
Posted 04 January 2008 at 07:47 pm

QP said: "I guess the good articles tell a story, is what I'm trying to say."

x2


errna
Posted 04 January 2008 at 10:05 pm

DI article, and an amazing and interesting person (Dr. Lang).

As for the dumb 'first' posts - they're stupid, childish, and utterly annoying. DI should consider banning people who have nothing to say apart from the 'first' **** (as several other sites I visit regularly do).


Silverhill
Posted 04 January 2008 at 11:27 pm

The opening comment is especially inappropriate, you know...the "first bitches" occurred many tens of thousands of years ago (at least), when dog-kind was evolving, and have/had nothing at all to do with origami. ;-)


Lisette
Posted 04 January 2008 at 11:50 pm

Wow! Some cool origami designs.
The most I have done is Kusadama flowers!


Pakistani Emergency
Posted 05 January 2008 at 12:49 am

Articles like this distract me, even for just a few moments, from the downwardly spiraling society that I am currently trapped in: Lahore, Pakistan... or as Newsweek would have the world believe, "the most dangerous country in the world."

Anyways, thanks for the thought, research, and effort the authors of DI put into their work.

Peace in the Middle East,
-I


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 04:54 am

What strikes me the most forcefully is that the link between art and technology is deftly illustrated. Music, painting, sculpture, writing - each is as much an expression of humankind's ability to use tools as it is an expression of the touch of the divine.

The old line, "Life imitating art," is also at play in this article. However, in this case, it might be more accurate to say, "Art influencing science," an occurrence which happens with little frequency.

To FixItDave, Adwkiwi, and errna: I understand your comments and thoughts entirely. However, it seems that some writers gain a sense of status and satisfaction from posting such items. That's fine with me, especially because they are harming no one at all. Therefore, I am willing to let them post such comments; meanwhile, I will simply skip their entries.

To QP: I have had the same thoughts about other articles, too. In my case, realizing that I could not possibly write as well as any of the DI contributors, I decided not to offer my services to Mr. Bellows & Co.

To Adwkiwi: I was extremely pleased to see that you wrote "VERY ANNOYING." I don't care for messages that appear entirely in capitals, but I find the current trend of using asterisks to express strong emotion to be *very annoying*. It just doesn't cut it, does it? Thanks for being willing to buck the current fad, even though others might find all capitals to be annoying.

To errna: It's interesting that you suggest that DI ban such entries. I am concerned, though, that that way might lie indiscriminate blocking. For example, I don't care to see the entries that contain nothing but "DI! Indeed!" or something of that nature. They serve no purpose, save that of allowing the writer to have some sense that he/she is participating. Strictly speaking, such entries don't need to be here. But, DI begins to block those entries, what will be next? Those entries that don't measure up to some intellectual standard, even though they discuss the points of the article? Of course, DI could block anything that it wanted to; this site belongs to them, not us. I'm grateful that they allow as much unfettered access as they do.

To Lisette: I'm envious. I can't make anything in origami at all.

Finally, for what it's worth, my opinion of the article: Extremely DI. The possible applications and benefits both for science and for the military are overwhelming in their implications. Spy satellites are already incredibly powerful. Can you imagine what the military will be able to see here on Earth with such a device? The scientists will study the universe; the military will observe us.


sd9sd
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:04 am

DI! It's just lovely when you can meld your hobby skills with your professional skills (I'm doing so too :) )
Never knew origami was this complex. When we were kids we used to make frogs, birds, cars, boats, planes and helicopter blades out of paper. The kid in the class who was best at the art used to be our hero! :) Loved those days!


slang
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:04 am

... or as Newsweek would have the world believe, "the most dangerous country in the world."

Just a sidenote hijack here.

I was in Pindi 2 years ago and I'm a white American. People there were great and I made a lot of friends. It might be dangerous there now but I'll never forget the two weeks that I was in Pak. Not one single time did someone try to set me afire or chop my head off. : )

Best Wishes to all of you.


karphi
Posted 05 January 2008 at 10:35 am

Stellar article as per usual.
I can see how far this could take what we know about the universe.
My appreciation for origami has increased ten-fold.
Additional puns of genuine appreciation.


MonkeyBones
Posted 05 January 2008 at 10:53 am

Please make sure the same amount of open quotes are closed, comment #18's unclosed quote tag(s) "bled" the red quote font style into the following comment, including this one. I will now type the "[ / quote ] " (no spaces) in my comment to close the quote from comment #18.

I hope it worked, anyhow, here is my comment to Anonymousx2.

Anonymousx2 said: "The scientists will study the universe; the military will observe us. "

You are quite optimistic. The fact is: "The scientists study the universe; the military observe us."


MonkeyBones
Posted 05 January 2008 at 10:56 am

Trying again to close the quote from comment #18.... testing 123


davea5025
Posted 05 January 2008 at 11:40 am

Re. comment #7 and others. If you follow the link to Lang's website, and go to the page dealing with the telescope mirror, you will see that his documentation references a cargo bay 4 meters by 10 meters (not 100). So this is in fact a misprint here.

Just imagine what you could do with a bay 100 meters long. Or a space elevator.

Overall, nice article. Damn interesting indeed.


another viewpoint
Posted 05 January 2008 at 02:25 pm

...just goes to show, one man's fold is another man's recyclable!


Peter Kappesser
Posted 05 January 2008 at 02:54 pm

I'm sorry to see some people didn't think this was very interesting. For me one of the appealing things about DI is the likelihood of learning something cool, something you could enjoy telling or showing others. In this case the "take-away" is the Miura-ori folding pattern. (Note that Miura is misspelled in the article.) Instructions for doing this can be seen at http://www.merrimack.edu/~thull/combgeom05/handout7.pdf


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:28 pm

MonkeyBones:

You wrote the following: I hope it worked, anyhow, here is my comment to Anonymousx2.
Anonymousx2 said: "The scientists will study the universe; the military will observe us. "
You are quite optimistic. The fact is: "The scientists study the universe; the military observe us."

Please return to my post, and reread the last paragraph. I think that you misunderstood my point: The military is already observing us, and they will be able to do so even better when such a device is operational.


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:29 pm

The last paragraph in my post above was not supposed to be in italics.


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:30 pm

What the heck is going on? First, I couldn't quote MonkeyBones. Now, I can't seem to turn off the italics. Let's see what happens now.


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:30 pm

Weird. Once more.


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:31 pm

I give up.


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:32 pm

Enter your reply text here.


Anonymousx2
Posted 05 January 2008 at 08:32 pm

Enter your reply text here.


Ed54_3
Posted 05 January 2008 at 09:03 pm

Anonymousx2 said: "Enter your reply text here."

I tried- doesn't work


sd9sd
Posted 06 January 2008 at 12:35 am

[/i]Tried to close the italics... :)
Come to think of it, we ourselves were origami once upon a time.
All of us were in a folded state in our mothers womb :) See the wrinkle marks on your palm.


errna
Posted 06 January 2008 at 02:57 am


To FixItDave, Adwkiwi, and errna: I understand your comments and thoughts entirely. However, it seems that some writers gain a sense of status and satisfaction from posting such items. That's fine with me, especially because they are harming no one at all. Therefore, I am willing to let them post such comments; meanwhile, I will simply skip their entries.

To errna: It's interesting that you suggest that DI ban such entries. I am concerned, though, that that way might lie indiscriminate blocking. For example, I don't care to see the entries that contain nothing but "DI! Indeed!" or something of that nature. They serve no purpose, save that of allowing the writer to have some sense that he/she is participating. Strictly speaking, such entries don't need to be here. But, DI begins to block those entries, what will be next? Those entries that don't measure up to some intellectual standard, even though they discuss the points of the article? Of course, DI could block anything that it wanted to; this site belongs to them, not us. I'm grateful that they allow as much unfettered access as they do.


errna
Posted 06 January 2008 at 03:12 am

Didn't mean to post just a quote...

Anonymousx2 - true, these 'DI indeed' posts don't mean much, but (hopefully) people who say that DID read the article and found it interesting - otherwise they'd say it wasn't DI.

As for the whole 'first' thing - I view these entries as spam messages.
Quite often I find myself one of the first readers/commentators, in fact I was "first" once. It was kinda cool to be the first, but who really cares.
And what makes me laugh, at how pathetic these, as you say "it seems that some writers gain a sense of status and satisfaction from posting such items" are - sometimes you see "First", when the entry happens to be third...

One of my most favourite websites actually did ban entries like 'first' or 'photoshopped' (it's a funny/interesting/unusual photos site), because viewers found that annoying - and I'm glad they did it.


mwace
Posted 06 January 2008 at 10:37 am

Interesting, but Ben Taylor - you write like a college student.

Get wild.


tarteauxpommes
Posted 06 January 2008 at 01:37 pm

Wow! This man is a true artist - blending the usually-separate worlds of art and science into something new and amazing. I could never get the hang of origami myself ... I'm so jealous.


surfjay
Posted 06 January 2008 at 03:44 pm

I would vote for banning the morons who post first, and expunging those entries from the threads. Love DI!


rev.felix
Posted 06 January 2008 at 05:44 pm

Just hit the firsters in the face with a pie. It will be funny and delicious.

On a side note, I never see the quotes bleeding over from one post to the next.


oldmancoyote
Posted 06 January 2008 at 07:15 pm

FIRST! Now rev.felix, hit me with my pie. (preferably a nice chocolate silk pie. MMM..pie!)


mustamike
Posted 06 January 2008 at 07:47 pm

oldmancoyote said: "Gotta agree, the beetle is way cool. We definately don't have a launch vehicle with a 100 meter cargo bay. My question is,"when the lens unfolds, what do we do if it refolds into a duck?""

That just made my day.


ChrisW75
Posted 06 January 2008 at 09:03 pm

Last! :)
Another good article, but a bit lighter on story than previous offerings, still a nice little Entree for the new year I think. I'd love to have heard how they folded the lens though... I'm guessing it's glass so it doesn't actually fold yes? I was left with a number of unanswered questions by this one really.


Gil
Posted 07 January 2008 at 06:49 am

Not Last! >:)

Darn tooting it's interesting that anyone could make a realistic beetle from a single piece and multiple folds!


J.K.
Posted 07 January 2008 at 07:35 am

Loving all this anti-first stuff. Personally if I were on staff here as a writer I wouldn't want people being that childish in my response areas to my work. Having the obvious access to update things I'd just erase every 'FIRST' post done each week a new piece goes up. I'd just personally find it disrespectful putting in the time I'd do to research, write-up, and cite my information to turn around and have a 'firsty' tard show up dumbing down debate.

I am curious though when speaking of the unfolding space telescope, is this having to do with the unit coming after the James Webb telescope? ...or one in the same? I know that one is supposed to be folded up and then expand when it hits a stable orbit.


Richard Solensky
Posted 07 January 2008 at 08:03 am

Let the "Firsters" have their little bit of fun. I can safely and easily ignore them and the few bytes of electrons they appropriate.

Back to the topic: Origami and paper folding are quite complex, mathematically speaking. There's a fine essay at http://www.strangehorizons.com/2002/20020311/folding.shtml
on the subject.


adastra
Posted 07 January 2008 at 12:14 pm

What's really amazing is how much energy has been spent discussing the firsters, with varying amounts of vitriol, when they're so easily ignored.

"This type of lens relies on microscopic, concentric circular grooves etched on the surface, which essentially create a hologram of a lens."

A hologram of a lens??? That can't be right. A virtual lens, maybe? Are we talking about a Fresnel lens? While I find the subject of topography and folding (check out protein folding) very interesting, some parts of this article weren't very clear.


cinndave
Posted 07 January 2008 at 12:32 pm

Just look at this:
http://www.langorigami.com/art/gallery/gallery.php4?name=roses_and_lilies
Looking at it, you can't even tell that it's origami!


theleaningelm
Posted 07 January 2008 at 12:34 pm

DI indeed, and a great way to start out the new year.

Little off track here, but for anyone interested in origami art, check out Eric Joisel at ericjoisel.com.


Kao_Valin
Posted 07 January 2008 at 12:55 pm

oldmancoyote said: "Gotta agree, the beetle is way cool. We definately don't have a launch vehicle with a 100 meter cargo bay. My question is,"when the lens unfolds, what do we do if it refolds into a duck?""

We'll have nintendo build a giant oragami light gun :)


Jeffrey93
Posted 07 January 2008 at 05:09 pm

Not overly DI....just I. A good read anyway.

Can anybody guess what is more annoying than the traditional 'First!' posts?

People that continually point out that they find it annoying. I don't know about you folks, but if I find something annoying I typically ignore it, it seems most on here that are annoyed by it are somehow compelled to bring attention to it repeatedly. If you find it annoying...the LAST thing you should want to do is bring more attention to it. It's one post per article.....deal with it.

Now...as for this origami stuff, never tried it and never will. It's good to see that what was previously just an art form is now being used in the name of science. Maybe this new telescope thing that is using origami to get it up there will finally show us pictures of Alf and Melmac.


Arnþór
Posted 07 January 2008 at 05:16 pm

Where's Radiatidon i kinda miss the fellow..


J.K.
Posted 07 January 2008 at 08:12 pm

HAHA Kao that was perfect. Could not have done a better Nintendo/80's pop culture reference there with that material.


Hoekstes
Posted 08 January 2008 at 06:28 am

Arnþór said: "Where's Radiatidon i kinda miss the fellow.."

He's probably off in some jungle fighting a gigantic origami gorilla with a rusty old scissor he kept from a trip in the Antarctic.


Hoekstes
Posted 08 January 2008 at 06:31 am

O, I almost forgot. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!! And if you're wondering why there's rusty scissors in the Antarctic - it's to cut off frost bitten fingers and toes, duh...


lalalala
Posted 08 January 2008 at 07:40 am

I love the "first" posts. It's a great gag, not that I've ever bothered to do it. The people that complain are the major part of the punch line, and they don't even get it. An easily ignored, one-word post at the top of a board. Then, 10 people spending time and effort to say the person is dumb, childish, or should be banned (classic!). The more people complain, the better the gag. The ones that complain are the stooges. It's like getting someone to look up the word "gullible" in the dictionary because you say it's not a real word. I giggle every time I see someone complain about a "first" post. Hook, line, sinker. What a maroon.


rev.felix
Posted 08 January 2008 at 12:18 pm

*hits oldmancoyote with a chocolate silk pie*

Really the only reason I mentioned the first phenomenon is because I needed something to connect to pie. Although a telescope is round, and pie is round...


ARCSolo
Posted 08 January 2008 at 01:00 pm

I personally get a chuckle when I see people claiming "First" at the end of articles. It's funny, not spam and should continue!! All the articles here are DI, just on different levels for me. Some topics I just can't get into. Origami space vehicles?!? DI!! Although I do find it a bit disturbing that somebody would quit any form of employment to pursue their origami art. Not to mention sell soup door to door. Sheesh. My next stop, however, is reading up on that telescope. Sounds DI!


Dean
Posted 08 January 2008 at 05:12 pm

Arnþór said: "Where's Radiatidon i kinda miss the fellow.."

My personal favourite at the moment is HiEv. It's interesting reading comments from these 'characters', like a big book through DI, with a sort of loose continuity.


Anonymousx2
Posted 09 January 2008 at 03:45 am

lalalala said: "I love the "first" posts. It's a great gag, not that I've ever bothered to do it. The people that complain are the major part of the punch line, and they don't even get it. An easily ignored, one-word post at the top of a board. Then, 10 people spending time and effort to say the person is dumb, childish, or should be banned (classic!). The more people complain, the better the gag. The ones that complain are the stooges. It's like getting someone to look up the word "gullible" in the dictionary because you say it's not a real word. I giggle every time I see someone complain about a "first" post. Hook, line, sinker. What a maroon."

Well said! Also, you presented a viewpoint that I had not considered.

Some months ago, I started the following gag as a response to the firsters:

Last!


baconbits
Posted 09 January 2008 at 04:25 pm

I'm simply impressed by anyone who has the patience and skill to raise paper-folding to an art form. I can't even refold a road map.


fatal retreat
Posted 09 January 2008 at 10:58 pm

Nooooo! DO NOT block 'first' posters! At least until I get my 'first' post, that is.. ;)

To unfold a map by pulling at just one corner... something I've always dreamed of...


J.K.
Posted 10 January 2008 at 06:06 am

lalala is a nitwit, there's no comedy in something that stupid. It's not a joke, it's a lame cry for attention that just detracts from a quality response to a thoughtfully assembled article by a childish attention seeking doofus.

I had multiple shots to pull of the immature first gag and refused. The latest was the assassins post a few months back and instead I wrote up a small response to the article and still in that time frame had the top post which stopped the tards from having their fun.


tampagirl
Posted 10 January 2008 at 07:45 am

J.K. said: "lalala is a nitwit, there's no comedy in something that stupid. It's not a joke, it's a lame cry for attention that just detracts from a quality response to a thoughtfully assembled article by a childish attention seeking doofus.

I had multiple shots to pull of the immature first gag and refused. The latest was the assassins post a few months back and instead I wrote up a small response to the article and still in that time frame had the top post which stopped the tards from having their fun."

While I fully support your right to your opinion, I feel that you only belittle yourself with your name calling. Terms like nitwit, doofus and tards, make you look childish rather than those who post the "first". Please follow the path of others on this site, that provide interesting debate not demeaning commentary.


lalalala
Posted 10 January 2008 at 08:32 am

J.K.,
Thanks for playing. You crack me up.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 10 January 2008 at 08:35 am

Hoekstes said: "He's probably off in some jungle fighting a gigantic origami gorilla with a rusty old scissor he kept from a trip in the Antarctic."

Yeah where is the Don?


skammer
Posted 10 January 2008 at 12:55 pm

"Between his efforts to earn a PhD in applied physics, his job at NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory, his eighty technical papers, and his forty-six patents in optoelectronics and lasers, he somehow found time to implement and evolve a number of original origami designs."

LOL - I think I would resort to origami too if I had to look at papers saturated with scientific jargon all day!

~ Life handed this man papers and he made a origami lemon out of it; I love it.

What I found interesting in this article was the role that artistic ability or creativity had with science. It touched on limited means and nearly infinite ends.


oldmancoyote
Posted 10 January 2008 at 06:35 pm

fatal retreat said: "To unfold a map by pulling at just one corner… something I've always dreamed of…"

I want a map that folds with just a push of a corner.


Rick58
Posted 11 January 2008 at 12:34 am

Anonymousx2 said: "The scientists will study the universe; the military will observe us."

No reason to use this to observe Earth objects - they already have several telescopes in Earth orbit that are better suited for that ... this thing is made to look at objects that take up unbelievably tiny pieces of sky billions of light-years away.
See: https://www.llnl.gov/str/March03/Hyde.html for a 2003 article. I think the funding for this has slowed recently ...


Falco Peregrinus
Posted 11 January 2008 at 06:10 am

Inflatable spacecraft, as mentioned above

Gigbo Renfrack said:"Along with the Bigelow Space inflatables, this has lots of potential. "

,could benefit greatly from origami inspired designs. One design I have always thought would be neat is one made like a Hoberman Sphere.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoberman_sphere

Chuck Hoberman was another folding guru. In this space "sphere", actually a polyhedron, the triangles and pentagons would be covered with basically the same sort of stuff as in a Bigelow Inflatable, like insulation and impact resistant layers, but inside it would have the frame of the expandable sphere to firmly attach equipment and other things. These outer layers would probably need some fancy origami-esque folds. Also I like the idea because it would be quite strong, the most volume for the amount of structure, potentially very small when launched and could possibly, if it were designed not to lock in the expanded mode, be retracted and taken out of orbit for repairs or whatever. Probably not very practical though.


Anonymousx2
Posted 11 January 2008 at 06:12 am

Rick58 said: "No reason to use this to observe Earth objects - they already have several telescopes in Earth orbit that are better suited for that … this thing is made to look at objects that take up unbelievably tiny pieces of sky billions of light-years away."

You could very well be correct in that the military will not need a telescope of this magnitude because of existing technology. For example, I once read that, back in the 1970's, one of the U.S. surveillance agencies was using space-based telescopes to monitor the activities of certain persons involved in civil demonstrations. Those telescopes - over thirty years ago - were powerful enough to read the license plate of a vehicle.

However, I am a realist in things military. I am always convinced that, no matter what the technology might be, the military will use it in their efforts to kill people. Don't think that I am a bleeding heart who thinks that everyone can co-exist by holding hands in a giant circle and singing "Kum-By-Ya." I am one who believes strongly that our country needs a strong War Department (the former name of the Department of Defense) and a strong military. However, I don't believe in using euphemisms. Although no one in the military wants to have a war just because we have the weapons, everyone in the military knows that their true purpose is to kill people when necessary.


Tink
Posted 14 January 2008 at 01:00 am

Someone asked how do you fold a mirror or glass. I wondered the same thing, but after looking at the picture, I think it is many panes hinged together, rather than one solid piece. Interesting but somewhat confusing. The links to all the orgami sites and the art works there are too cool.


Dean
Posted 17 January 2008 at 05:14 am

HiEv
Posted 23 January 2008 at 09:45 am

Personally, I wish they'd block the "FIRST!" posts simply because then many posts are nothing but people (rightly) complaining about how annoying they are. They're a waste of space that cause more space to be wasted.

A simple solution might be to hide comments until five have been made, and also block making two posts in a row until the comments are visible. That way you have no way of knowing if you're first or not, and there is an 80% chance you'll be wrong and look like an idiot if you post "FIRST!".

P.S. Thanks Dean, you made be blush. ;-)


Old Man
Posted 28 January 2008 at 11:58 pm

supercalafragalistic
Posted 01 February 2008 at 07:39 pm

Wow- a great article. Sorry it took me so long to comment on this one. I was caught up in the New Year festivities....My biggest question is how do you fold something that is not paper? How do you fold metal for example? It doesn't quite make sense. So in order to make this telescope you would start out with this big flat sheet of metal then fold it all into place? Somehow it makes better sense that individual shapes would be fitted together to form the final result. Back in college I did a woodshop project that involved creating a 12-sided pentagonal piece that involved cutting 12 pentagon shapes out of wood at exactly the correct angle, and then cutting every edge of all 12 pieces at the correct and identical angle so it could be fitted together with wood glue. I mean it's not like I could have just taken a big piece of wood and folded into a multi-sided complex geometric shape. Similarly, you can't just go to the fabric store, buy 20 yards of your favorite satin and fold it into a bridesmaid gown. You would have to sew it together. You could drape it, which means you'd take the fabric and lay it out on a dress form and decide where to put the darts and folds, etc. in a more organic way, or you could be structured about it and either make your own pattern or buy one from the store, but you would still most likely have to sew it, glue it, or pin it somehow to keep it together. If you bought a pattern like most people do, you'd lay out your fabric, pin the pattern to the fabric, cut it out, and sew it together. How much of what I'm talking about is also incorporated into Dr. Lang's methods? Kind of feel like a stickler but had to ask about this.

On a lighter note I would love to buy an orgami inspired pair of slacks, or be able to fold my sweater into a duck. How about an orgami folded pie crust? Now that would be a first! (all pun intended) I love this web site and its colorful circus of comments.


Sergei Andropov
Posted 04 February 2008 at 03:25 am

I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with this article. While Robert Lang is one of the greatest origamians in the world, and did make substantial advances in computer-assisted origami designs, this article still vastly overinflates his importance. It makes it sound like he, personally, took origami from the traditional crane directly to the sea urchin, which is patently untrue. He is just one person, and his "style" is only unique inasmuch as it uses custom bases (and he may not even be responsible for those). There are many, many others who have contributed as much or more to the field of origami: Peter Engel, Jun Maekawa, Toshikazu Kawasaki, Kunihiro Kasahara, John Montroll... the list goes on. Also, insects are pretty standard fare now. The really impressive stuff is stuff like the Ryu-jin and these.


Silverhill
Posted 04 February 2008 at 04:36 pm

supercalafragalistic said: "My biggest question is how do you fold something that is not paper? How do you fold metal for example? It doesn't quite make sense. So in order to make this telescope you would start out with this big flat sheet of metal then fold it all into place?"
See the article linked in comment #68. The glass panes of the Lang telescope design are connected by hinged strips of metal, and the folding occurs at the hinges.


Radiatidon
Posted 07 February 2008 at 12:42 pm

Interesting, paper airplanes in space… http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23029202/wid/11915829?gt1=10939

Based on that news story and this Damn Interesting article, I whipped up the following:

You will have to excuse the grammatical errors and redundant wording. This was just a scenario using existing and possible technologies I quickly tossed together over the last hour. ;)

Just another boring day aboard the Space habitat as you stroll its gritty halls back to your cubical. You ponder the humming, flickering fluorescence and wonder when maintenance was going to fix it. The lamp has been like that for how long, three weeks now? The whole station seemed to be falling apart.

When you get to your cubical, the door irises half way and seizes. With a sigh you slap the reset button. Hissing and grinding, the door panels close back up. Waving your hand over the sensor a second time, the mechanism monitors your bone chip and identifies your DNA signature. With a rouge bagpipe type wheeze, the panels slide back again to freeze partway when something bangs inside the wall.

Irritated you punch the reset button but nothing happens. With a grumble you squeeze through the irregular, tight hole and enter the apartment. Approaching the COM to file a complaint, you are knocked from your feet by a jolt. The lights flicker as warning klaxons being to squall. Somewhere deep within the heart of the station resounds a painful sounding groan followed by a vibration in the structure. A holo picture of your parents crashes to the floor. One of the crystal holo emitters snaps from the picture frame corner, its beam flashing wildly across the room and strikes you in the eye. Closing your eyes, you yelp in pain. Red and white blobs of light seem to burst behind your closed eyelids as a sledgehammer of pain bashes into a spot behind the eyes.

Wincing you rub at your defiled eyes and stumble to the room’s porthole. The station is filled with sounds of groaning metal. Small explosions rock the structure as you blink back the tears and look into space. Your normal Ferris wheel view from the gravity band is no longer serene. Normally the Earth can be seen through the delicate spider web like lattice bound gerbil looking glass and metal tubes of the space station. No longer. The mess you now observe no longer resembles the station. Enviro chambers float freely through space; puffs of escaping atmosphere can clearly be seen. Cables and support lattices perform a dance of freedom now released from the job of supporting the station.

You stumble back from the window in shock. Some of the earlier bangs must have been safety airlocks clamping into place. The only thought in your numb mind is “What should I do?” as your heart pounds in panic.

A soft and slightly demur computer generated female voice sounds over the general COM system. “Attention please. Due to a slight systems failure, all personnel should report calmly to your assigned evacuation point. We apologize for any inconvenience but feel that there may be probable cause for this procedure. Please don’t panic as there is plenty of time to reach your assigned destination…Attention please. Due to a sliiiiiii…errr…errr” The station wrenches violently as the COM goes silent, and with it the main lighting fails. Emergency leds kick in, with an eerie frosted four-inch blue glow from the walls and an angry red arrow configuration pointing towards the emergency exit from the floor. Now blocked by the malfunctioning door.

With that comforting information your port window suddenly develops a crack when the station shudders once again. A seam appears in the wall nearby and starts out gassing with a high pitch squeal that sets your teeth on edge. More cracks spider their way across the porthole glass. “Calm, cool, collected… bullocks,” you curse running towards the door which irises tightly close. You wave your hand over the sensor and punch the reset button to no avail. The door refuses to operate. Behind you the squeal is getting deeper in pitch. Looking back, your worst fears are confirmed; the tear in the wall is getting larger. Grabbing a can of all-purpose Quickseal you quickly read the instructions. Popping the plastic caps off each end, you point the red end towards the ever-widening crack. Grabbing the pull-tab on the bottom you yank. With an ear deafening foomp a quickly expanding glob of foam explodes from the end of the can to splatter on the far wall, covering the deadly hole. Within seconds the pulsating foam hardens, sealing the rupture for now. Nearby the window cracks even more. Its once crystal clarity now obscured with thousands of minute cracks.

You return your attention back to the door. Punching the reset button repeatedly. In frustration you hammer your fist into the wall above the door. For the first time since you lived here, the door gently hisses fully open with out sounding like a nest of serpents shifting gears without the clutch.

Just as you enter the hallway, there is a loud noise from your room. You feel yourself pulled back towards the apartment with a sudden rush of air. Fearfully you realize that both the wall or window has been destroyed and you are now being pulled into the vacuum of space. With a hiss your door quickly slams shut sealing off the room and saving you from a most distasteful demise.

You rush down the corridor, various wiring, piping, and lighting fixtures hang broken from the ceiling or littered across the floor. Within moments you reach the evac area. All the escape pods are gone. You know that it would be futile to try elsewhere. Emergency airlocks cannot be open except with the master control systems override. You are trapped in this section. That’s when you see them, a wall of boxes, but you recall what they contained.

Pulling one out, you open it and take out a various foil packets. Opening the first, which is labeled, suit, you pullout a small twin tank marked with Caution: Two-hour oxygen limit. Be sure to attach Oxyscrub unit. Attached to it is a folded silky material. Pulling a corner marked, Pull-me, it unfolds into a one-piece Envriosuit. Tough tight fitting, it slips on quick and easy. The second package is labeled helmet. Tearing open the packet you pull out a folded clear packet, various coils of black rubber like tubing with different colored ends, a belt with four-inch by four-inch boxes with each bearing the label Oxyscrub, and a small tube labeled Suit Seal.

Tugging on the clear packet’s pull-me tab revels what at first appears to be a large, clear balloon, but in reality is the helmet. Following the instructions, you apply Suit Seal to the black tubing and plug the color coordinated and slot keyed ends into the four holes on the deflated helmet. Next you plug two of the tubes into the matching holes in front of each armpit on the chest marked Oxy. The final two black tubes plug into a Oxyscrub box located above each buttocks. Finally you apply a thin line of Suit Seal along the folded up, neck sleeve of the helmet. Finding the blue arrow marked front, you slip the clear bag over your head and carefully align the blue arrows on the helmet and the suit. With a slight click the magnetic alignment tabs make contact providing a precise connection for the fiberwire running throughout the suit. Careful not to touch the upturned glue strip you connect the two magnets above each shoulder and the final one behind the neck.

The suit’s systems beep as the computer built into the fiber of the suit comes to life with the final electrical connection. Air blows against the back of your head as the helmet starts to fill with air. Pushing the neck flange down against the suit, you press on the glue strip adhering the helmet to the suit. In the clear plastic in front of your face, a display appears giving first, a readout of the suit’s systems, and then finally your bio-signs. Within minutes the helmet is fully inflated, the plastic hardening into a semi-solid. The readout gives a green light on the pressure seal and then on all systems. You are ready for space.

Discarding the other packets marked suit and helmet, you grab the biggest of all. The final package you pull out looks like a folded parachute. Except that it is made of paper. Following the instructions on the device, you slide it across the floor. Though heavy, you still manage to move it into the airlock. A task made easier by the small, ball bearing style wheels on the bottom side. You position the package over a red square on the floor. The ball bearing wheels slip perfectly into four dents in the locker floor. Grabbing the pull-me tab on one corner, you yank on it as you back out of the locker. The package unfolds with artistic ease. You reenter the airlock and push or pull, depending on how the areas are labeled staring with the one “A” – push until section “B” pops out. The whole procedure occurs with ease and simplicity. Before long you are looking at the strangest gold foil wrapped paper box you have ever seen.

Sitting on a thirty-inch wide bottom, it had bottom side panels that angled outward meeting an angled upper panel that connected with a thirty-inch wide top. Folded paper wings were connected to each side of the craft. Small thruster canisters were situated at precise areas along the body of the craft for limited space maneuvering. As with the sides, sloping panels that met in the middle also formed the nose of the craft.

You enter the craft from the rear. You grab a Pull-me tab and expose a glue strip along the edge of the door. Pulling the flap close, you make sure that the glue strip adheres tightly to the body. Once satisfied, you climb over the rear paper seat and sit down in the forward pilot’s seat, which is surprisingly sturdy considering what it was made of. “This should be interesting,” you think since you have never piloted anything before. You realize that your suit had become affixed to the seat. Was there glue there before you sat down?

Before you on the wall are instructions and no view screen. It explains that instead of restraining straps, the seat has a special bonding agent that attaches to the suit. Not to worry though as water will instantly dissolve the bonder. Following the instructions, you pull a tab on each side of the seat exposing a wire therein. Taking the wire from each side, you plug them into holes in suit’s knees. They click tightly, and you pull as instructed to make sure both are properly seated. The helmet screen darkens and you can now see all around the craft. It is almost as if you were standing there and not seated inside a paper escape craft.

A soft voice tells you to sit back, relax, and leave the driving to us, another fine cyber system brought to you by …. With a gentle hiss, the airlock depressurizes. The paper craft around you crinkles as the air evacuates from it as well. You feel the heating circuits in your suit warm-up as the outer lock opens to the coldness of space.

Ever so gently the craft rises up and accelerates out of the lock. The sight that befalls you is devastating. The once impressive space habitat is in shambles. You wonder fearfully how this thin paper ship will be able to traverse this debris field let alone reenter the Earth’s atmosphere. Bio readouts on the faceplate indicate a rise in heart rate and breathing. You feel a slight sting in your left shoulder and within moments the bio readouts settle down.

The paper ship is quite adept, maneuvering through the remains of the space station without incident. Some hours later, it has position itself, and instructed you to pull down on a paper bar above your seat. Doing such unfolds the paper wings situated along each side of the craft. With a beep the computer voice thanks you and begins the final descent towards the Earth. You are contacted by Traffic control that assures you emergency craft will be waiting when you land. Though the paper craft did get fairly warm, the suit functioned perfectly by pumping a coolant through the micro-capillaries interlaced throughout the material. The only bad part of the trip was the final landing. The suit’s computer had limited control due to the nature of the paper wings, and the lack of a decent landing gear so the touchdown was a tad bouncy. But then again, this is far better than what could have been if not for the low cost, but efficient technologies, and an ancient paper craft of folding that saved your bacon this day.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 10 February 2008 at 04:56 pm

The Don has just inserted a fantastic easter egg into these comments. Very very cool. tres chic.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 10 February 2008 at 05:25 pm

Silverhill said: "See the article linked in comment #68. The glass panes of the Lang telescope design are connected by hinged strips of metal, and the folding occurs at the hinges."

Thank you! Thank you! for bringing this to my attention. I had time to go in and read the article today and there is a great picture in there that shows how the fitted pieces fold to expand or collapse. Now I get it. It's not like folding a piece of paper. It's like a bunch of individual pieces hinged together to create a folding pattern so that the object can collapse. It's a lot more complicated than just creating an object outright. It has to do what it is supposed to as a design when fully expanded, but it also has to collapse, or fold up. So, now I am wondering if it is possible to take any object that currently exists- a semi truck, a house, an airplane, and segment it via orgami folding patterns and engineer it so it can collapse or fold up?


Silverhill
Posted 11 February 2008 at 04:13 pm

Collapsible structures, and even vehicles, exist---but one must deal with the reduced strength and/or stability of such things compared to structures that are built rigid. Not all applications would be worth the effort.


Anthropositor
Posted 16 August 2008 at 09:54 pm

A tip of the hat to the Don. I reserve my pedestrian comments for another occasion.


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