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Origami: from flapping birds to space telescopes!

2 min read

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Origami: from flapping birds to space telescopes!
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Artist and physicist, Dr. Robert J. Lang, combines the ancient art of paper-folding with mathematics to produce intricate practical solutions for the space program. He also makes paper animals.

Origami plus mathematics can produce complex practical geometry for industry and engineering

Origami, the art of paper folding often associated with Japanese culture, has many surprising practical applications in the modern scientific and engineering world. 

Dr. Lang's designs have real-world practical applications Dr. Robert J. Lang is a physicist who worked at NASA studying lasers and has 46 patents on optoelectronics to his name. However, that's not what he's best known for now: he's a legend in the world of origami. His intricate designs are second to none, and they actually have applications back in engineering, from airbags to space telescopes. Source: Facebook/GreatBigStory
Robert J. Lang has been an avid student of origami for over forty years and is now recognised as one of the world’s leading masters of the art, with over 500 designs catalogued and diagrammed. He is noted for designs of great detail and realism, and includes in his repertoire some of the most complex origami designs ever created.
Dr. Lang at work Robert J. Lang has been an avid student of origami for over forty years and is now recognised as one of the world’s leading masters of the art, with over 500 designs catalogued and diagrammed. He is noted for designs of great detail and realism, and includes in his repertoire some of the most complex origami designs ever created. Source: langorigami.com

Full-time origami artist and consultant Dr. Lang’s work combines East and West

Dr. Lang’s work combines aspects of the Western school of mathematical origami design with the Eastern emphasis upon line and form to yield models that are at once distinctive, elegant, and challenging to fold.

In 1992 Dr. Lang became the first Westerner ever invited to address the Nippon Origami Association’s annual meeting; he has since been an invited guest at international origami conventions around the world. He lectures widely on origami and its connections to mathematics, science, and technology, and teaches workshops on both artistic techniques and applications of folding in industrial design.

Along the way to his current career as a full-time origami artist and consultant he worked as a a physicist, engineer, and R&D manager, during which time he authored or co-authored over 80 technical publications and 50 patents awarded and pending on semiconductor lasers, optics, and integrated optoelectronics.

Source: langorigami

Folding Way – New Origami: Robert Lang’s TED Talk had them in creases Robert Lang is a pioneer of the newest kind of origami. Using mathematics and engineering principles he is able to fold mind-blowingly intricate designs that are beautiful and, sometimes, very useful. Source: Youtube/TEDEd
Some of the designs are incredibly intricte, reflecting the natural object in their complexity.
“A Miura-ken Beauty Rose, Opus 482” – Robert Lang Some of the designs are incredibly intricte, reflecting the natural object in their complexity. Source: langorigami.com
Made from 500 uncut squares of elephant hide paper
“Pentasia” – Robert Lang Made from 500 uncut squares of elephant hide paper Source: langorigami.com
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Printable Origami Instructions

Just for fun, here is a link to some printable origami diagrams made into convenient pdfs. You can print them out and try origami for yourself.