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Lessons from an Ancient Art

14 Feb 2009, 18:06 UTC
Lessons from an Ancient Art
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Lots of scientists have favorite hobbies, but it's rare that those hobbies blossom into an exciting new branch of research. But that's just what happened to Robert Lang, a former NASA researcher whose 40-year fascination with the Japanese art of...Lots of scientists have favorite hobbies, but it's rare that those hobbies blossom into an exciting new branch of research. But that's just what happened to Robert Lang, a former NASA researcher whose 40-year fascination with the Japanese art of origami led to his pioneering an intriguing cross-disciplinary interweaving of origami with mathematics. He's now recognized as one of the world's leading masters of the art, as well as a leading consultant on various practical applications of origami to common engineering problems: using the underlying algorithms to simulate air bag deployment, for example, or to design a stent graft. That's right, folding a sheet of paper with no cuts into intricate shapes has more than mere aesthetic appeal. And he told rapt listeners all about his fascinating work this afternoon at the AAAS meeting in Chicago in his talk, "From Flapping Bird to Space Telescopes: The Modern Science of Origami." The fundamental question is this: given a desired subject, how do ...

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