For this blog post I was interested in the potential real world applications of origami and I came across this TED talk. I recommend everyone check it out, it’s only about 16 minutes long.

Although origami had been around for a long time, it was the implementation of mathematical strategy that has led to remarkable pieces of art that boggle the mind when considering that they come from single sheets of paper with no cuts.

This is interesting in and of itself that by determining the mathematical laws that govern the limits of paper folding people were able to push the art to the limits never before considered.

Origami follows four basic laws:

- 2-colorability, you can color any crease patterns with two colors and never have the two colors meet.
- at any interior vertices M-V=+/-2 (where M=mountain folds and V=valley folds)
- when angles around a vertex are numbered, the sum of alternating angles equals a straight line
- no self-intersection at overlaps (sheet an never penetrate a fold)

By using this information, crease patterns (the underlying blueprint) can be used to create incredibly detailed structures, especially by applying the established understanding of circle packing to create flaps.

The real world application is that there are instances when a large, sheet like structure must be delivered to its destination via a route that cannot accommodate its extended size and thus requires complex packaging or folding.

This TED talk gives several examples:

- Solar array
- Jones Web telescope lens
- Eyeglass Telescope (still in experimental phase)
- Solar Sail
- Stent for opening arteries
- Airbags in cars

I thought of my own examples:

- Parachute packing
- Protein folding

I found this an exciting and surprising discovery. And to think, that I just thought origami was for calm and relaxation. The potential application for targeted drug manufacturing, protein manipulation, and other medical delivery methods is astounding. As Robert Lang says, “Origami may end up saving lives.”