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From flapping birds to space telescopes: the math of origami

The University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum on the Mississippi River has been called a lot of things — my favorite was collapsed grain elevator.

The University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum on the Mississippi River has been called a lot of things — my favorite was collapsed grain elevator. Actually the building designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry is an origami-inspired structure.

The principles of origami, the centuries-old Japanese art of paper-folding, can be used to solve a wide range of folding problems, from how to compress an airbag into a steering wheel to how to design complex folding telescopes. These math-based origami concepts are used in product development, architecture and designs seen all around us.

Tonight, you can hear Robert Lang, one of the world’s leading masters of origami, talk about how the principles of the art apply to engineering problems.

Lang’s lecture is part of a series of free public lectures sponsored by the U of M’s Institute for Mathematics and its Applications. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. at 125 Willey Hall, 225 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis. (Directions here.)

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More information on the lecture series is available here.