Origami Memorials

Hi All!

So in Japan origami cranes have a ton of significance, as you saw with Riley’s post. My mom and I visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City two years ago and were taken aback by tons and tons of cranes on their walls and ceilings lined with origami cranes sent by Japanese school children. OrigamiUSA alone received over 18,000 in the weeks and months after the World Trade Center attacks. Those Cranes were distributed to fire houses and schools that were affected in the lower Manhattan area.

“In Japanese popular culture, the “Thousand Origami Cranes” — Senbazuru or Zenbazuru — has come to reference world peace through the poignant story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who contracted leukemia as a result of radiation from the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Based on ancient Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a wish by the crane honored in origami form. Wishing good health, Sadako began to fold the cranes after her diagnosis, but only made 644 before she died. Her classmates folded the remaining cranes, which were then buried with her. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane in outstretched hands was erected in Hiroshima Peace Park, with the inscription, “This is our cry, this is our prayer; peace in the world.”In a letter to Nino Vendrome of Nino’s restaurant, the Japanese class wrote, “We folded our cranes with the same wish in mind, and thought it fitting to place the cranes in New York.”


 A statue of Sadako in Seattle, Washington, covered with origami cranes.

The original Sadako statue in Hiroshima.

 A Sadako statue in a peace garden in Wales.

 Another Sadako statue in Salt Lake City, Utah

 Independence, Missouri

There are nearly a dozen more around the U.S.!

Here’s instructions on how to make your own! https://origamiusa.org/files/traditional-crane.pdf

Bolivian Frieze Patterns

Hola compadres!

In July of last year I had the incredible opportunity to travel to La Paz, Bolivia to serve impoverished families, an orphanage, a free medical clinic, and lose 16 pounds in 12 days because there’s LITERALLY 30% less oxygen that high up (roughly 13, 000 feet above sea level!) so even walking up one flight of stairs was like a full-body workout. (Altitude sickness SUCKS you guys. It sucks HARD. When I got off the plane security could tell I was turning pale [hard for me to do, mind you] and I had to sit for TWENTY MINUTES before the room stopped spinning and my stomach decided to remain in my body.)

Anyways, while there, I (fashionista that I am) bought a crap ton of Bolivian printed fabrics/artworks and they were the first things that came to mind when I thought of frieze patterns!

What you’re looking at is a fabric photo frame (with our group standing in front of a free health clinic we volunteered at) and then a fabric covered notebook. While the photo frame is at an angle, the original fabric is full of straight frieze patterns, as is the middle bar design of the notebook.

Bolivian fabrics are rich in color and patterns of all kinds with glide or rotational symmetry:

The fabric is typically woven from llama, alpaca or sheep wool and usually cut into shawl-like clothing called “aguayo”. Different regions have different predominant colors or patterns that relate to the country’s rich history. If I remember, next class I’ll wear the shoes I bought there that also have (significantly smaller) patterns on them. 🙂

Here’s a picture I took at one of the park days we hosted for families – you’ll see a woman on the left sporting a baby carrier with similar patterns on it:

Math, culture, art, FASHION!

(P.S. If you’re ever thinking “Huh, I wanna support a third world country but I have no idea which one/how to give the most I can, Bolivia needs HELP. They don’t like the American government so they’ve kicked out the Red Cross and Salvation Army even though SEVENTY PERCENT of the FRIGGIN ENTIRE NATION is under the “$2 a day” international poverty line. A ton of the 3-16 year olds we worked with at the orphanage won’t have teeth when they’re adults; dental care is that poor. We spent a day working with families in an area where having a real roof (not just metal sheeting) was a luxury. Abuse of all kinds is very common and kids suffer most. They don’t have a postal system in the ENTIRE COUNTRY meaning aid needs to be delivered with volunteers or sent by parcel service which is pricey. HOWEVER One American Dollar is worth almost SEVEN (6.93 to be exact) Bolivianos, meaning you multiply by nearly SEVEN any money you donate! If you want more info let me know – Bolivia and her people totally changed my life and I want to spread the word on how to help. 🙂 )

Adios! (Me right outside of a LITERAL hole-in-the-wall pasterleria [bakery] in Western La Paz.) Did I mention the sky is bluer there because there’s less pollution? #NoFilter


Optical Illusions vs. Stephen Strange: FIGHT!

Hey guys,

This is your friendly neighborhood lady nerd here! My nerd senses legit screamed as soon as we watched the Inception clip in class. As much as I love watching that movie until my brain melts, I’m also a sucker for a happy ending and a tie-in to the largest movie franchise since everrrrr (I was gonna say since Disney but I can’t anymore…)

Anyways, what if we took all of the visual effects of Inception, made them uber-colorful, added magic, mystery, ?drugs?, and BENEDICT FRIGGIN CUMBERBATCH?

What you have is this (start at about 20 seconds):

If you don’t know, that’s incredibly wealthy surgeon Stephen Strange after about an hour and a half of texting and driving leading to a car crash, seeking out some mystic healing, getting the WiFi password, and then studying his butt off to become the Sorcerer Supreme so he can help the White Witch save the world from Hannibal Lecter/whatsherface’s dad from Rogue One.

The film’s VFX supervisor Stephane Ceretti says the effects team analyzed the physical impossibilities of M.C. Escher’s drawings, the forced-perspective motion of the mobile game Monument Valley, the unnatural realism of light-painting photography, and the mathematical psychedelia of fractals. (http://www.vulture.com/2016/11/what-inspired-doctor-stranges-visual-effects.html)  Ceretti was surprised and impressed to find things that looked like them in the pencil-and-ink artwork of comics writer/artist Steve Ditko, who co-created Doctor Strange in 1963: “[Ditko’s] use of colors and shapes was pretty uncommon at the time,” he says. “And actually, today, we can only do those things on the computer. Even some of the design that he did looked like fractals, which were not even invented at the time.”

Here are some images from the original comics (which began in the early 1960’s)

It’s just illusions and writers that were probably trippin’ and COLOR. SO MUCH COLOR.

Said Cerreti: “When you start to play with fractals, it’s very mathematical so its process intensive. But you cannot choreograph it very well because it reacts in a very procedural way. So, with this film, we had to create the different deformations, change of shapes and the use of fractals that we’re doing. You need to do that to direct the scene and have what you want in the shot. And because we had four different visual effects vendors working on the film and all working together to match together, they worked as a group to figure out the best way to go about choreographing and controlling the fractals for what we wanted.” (https://www.awn.com/vfxworld/stephane-ceretti-and-vfx-doctor-strange)

For the super technical among you, these articles (one from a math blog!) go into more details on the types of math/fractals that people picked up on:

  • https://lifethroughamathematicianseyes.wordpress.com/2016/11/13/great-math-in-doctor-strange/
  • https://www.framestore.com/doctorstrange
  • https://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/bonus-luma-pictures-new-tools-for-doctor-strange/

So ends our journey into interdimensionality for today! See y’all tomorrow, weather permittin’.


Traveling Salesman Problem vs. Star Wars

Wow look who’s finally remembering to post!

OK so if you couldn’t figure it out I love Star Wars and kinda detest math. However, since we could bring in Star Wars, I decided to better one thing that’s always bothered me in movies.

You know how characters zip all over the place in movies with no problems? No traffic, no stopping to refuel, no checking maps, no figuring out the best method to get from place to place?

I was inspired by the Car 54  problem and decided to create my own for y’all to solve. This map (granted, not from an official Star Wars site) shows all the trips taken in the various SW movies, which is super cool!

Me being the nerdy lady I am, I decided to start a hop on/hop off flight tour for the most interesting (in my humble opinion) places in the SW universe and find the quickest way to do that.

Here’s the map without lines: Here’s MY map with my tour locations indicated with red dots. Included (in no order) are: Hoth, Tattoine, Alderaan (with a yellow dot because RIP), Courasant, Naboo, Dagobah, Endor, and Mustafar.

Here’s the much simpler map with the points represented by their initial and indicated by pushpins:

Since a lightyear is approximately 5.88 trillion miles and Jupiter is 0.000082 of a lightyear away from earth, I’m going to put the average planet distance at 0.02 lightyears for the fictional SW map as their galaxy is far larger. (Ooo math!)

Here’s the map with the “weights” added:


  • Corrusant – Alderaan: .02
  • Alderaan – Tattooine: 1.05
  • Tattooine – Naboo: .04
  • Naboo – Dagobah: .06
  • Dagobah – Mustafar: .03
  • Mustafar – Hoth: .02
  • Hoth – Endor: .07
  • Endor – Corrusant: 1.15

This to me looks like the shortest Traveling Salesman distance – I’m wondering if anyone in the comments wants to try finding another way to travel? You have to begin at Corrusant, go to Alderaan, and then continue.

I actually had a lot of fun working on this – from a 90% creative, 10% logical mind like mine, I get to create a route and then find it’s efficiency.

Have fun playing around with this!

P.S. I thought this anecdote from Business Insider about the TSP was pretty good and another reminder of how much math there is: “As we can already see with these small numbers of cities, the number of paths grows extremely quickly as we add more cities. While it’s still easy to take a given path and find its length, the sheer number of possible paths makes our brute-force approach untenable. By the time we have 30 cities, the number of possible paths is about a 9 followed by 30 zeros. A computer that could check a trillion paths per second would take about 280 billion years to check every path, about 20 times the current age of the universe.”  http://www.businessinsider.com/p-vs-np-millennium-prize-problems-2014-9