Nishat Kurwa on Monday, Oct. 29th
This has got to be one of the best stories I’ve ever read about computational origami.
Ok, so maybe it’s one of the only stories I’ve read about computational origami. But here’s what makes it otherwise distinct: it’s about a father-son collaboration, in which the father teaches himself computer science by sitting in on his son’s class at MIT — a son who apparently was MIT’s youngest professor ever when he started teaching at age 20.
Eric Demaine (the professor) uses computational algorithms (sometimes run in his head) to figure out how to move large objects through smaller spaces.
His father, Martin Demaine, began his artistic career glass blowing, and his collaborations with his son “explore the concept of curved creases, a departure from traditional origami, which typically involves folding straight creases.”
Eric Demaine tells NSF.gov:
“We have mathematical tools for designing straight crease origami, but the challenge has been curved creases,” he says. “There is little mathematical understanding of curved creases, and how to design them. We wanted to explore that, and are still exploring it. The more experimental design we do, the more we get an intuitive understanding of how to encourage the paper into a particular shape. The mathematical goal is to be able to automatically design, with a computational tool, any 3D form you want with these curved creases.
“Suppose you want to fold a space station,” he adds. “You give the computer algorithm your 3D drawing of your space station, and it tells you how to put in the curved creases, and if you put them in at once, it will pop into your desired shape.”
The folded paper structures he’s created with his father are in an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery through February 2013.