The art of origami in the hands of a scientist

  Robert Lang has a spacious studio in Alamo, California. Among his many insect figures folded out of paper, there are beetles with long tentacles, dark brown centipedes with sinuous bodies and raised forelimbs. A mantis, a fat bulging cicada, a scorpion and a black horsefly.
  These origami creatures are so lifelike that visiting guests are always careful not to step on them. Robert Lang has been researching the art of origami for many years, and his works represent a new realm of origami, which is no longer limited to traditional birds and boats. Origami is a kind of art that uses paper to fold various animals or other objects. After integrating new mathematical theory and computer technology, origami art is developing towards a higher technical level and artistic realm. All this thanks to a small but growing research team of mathematicians and scientists around the world, including Robert Lang. Scientists believe that the ancient art of origami may well contain first-class solutions to difficult problems in many fields, such as automation safety, space science, architecture, robotics, manufacturing and medical science.
  Robert Lang, 46, is a laser physicist and associate researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. mathematical principles. “In the field of origami, he is a versatile person, and many scientists are often interested in the art of origami when they encounter a problem that needs to be solved,” said Jane Pollich of the Origami Society of America. Has 1700 members around the world. The reason why Robert Lang’s art of origami interested many scientists is because he combined art and mathematics.
  Some of the nearly 500 intricate origami works Robert Lang conceived and created required hundreds of folds to complete. Such as turtles with patterns on their back shells, birds of prey with embossed feathers, rattlesnakes with a thousand scales, and ticks the size of a popcorn. One of his masterpieces in 1987 was the life-size, 15-inch-tall Black Forest Cuckoo Clock (an ingeniously designed timepiece with a small wooden door above the clock that automatically opens every half and hour, and There is a cuckoo that tells the time and makes a sweet “Cuckoo” call.), this paper clock has a pendulum, and is decorated with pine cones and deer heads. The complexity of this origami work is really incredible, and Robert Lang was invited. It took a full 5 hours to complete the folding performance on Nippon TV. The only props needed for most origami creations are a whole sheet of paper, neither cut nor torn.
  Robert Lang has written 8 books on the art of origami, some of which are co-authored, in which some of his origami art is displayed, as well as Paris, New York, Tokyo, Boston, Seattle and San Diego, etc. The traditional art of origami. In 2004, he visited MIT as an artist and stayed there for a week. His lectures on the art of origami attracted many students from the mathematics and computer departments. Last September, he also organized the 4th International Conference on Origami Crafts at Caltech.
  ”What’s remarkable about him is that he has a particularly acute ingenuity for paper and folding,” says Eric Demeny, an electrical engineer and professor of computer science at MIT. “When he’s thinking about solving a problem, When it comes to folding a piece of paper, you can usually find a solution.” Demaine is also deeply researched in various origami techniques and often collaborates with Lang.
  Robert Lang has been obsessed with origami since he was a child, when his father, Jim, was a sales manager for an equipment company in Atlanta, and his mother, Caroline, presided over the housework at home. When he was 6 years old, his mother gave the precocious child a book about Book of origami skills. “That’s when I remember,” Long recalls. “At the time, I thought it was really amazing. As long as you have a piece of paper and some spare time, you can make some cute toys. The materials you need are always available and inexhaustible.”
  By the age of 10, Lang was able to fold a bird that fluttered and a frog that jumped, following the examples presented in the book. “I started thinking about things that weren’t in the origami books, and I started thinking about designing and folding my own,” he says. He persevered in the hobby, and when he graduated from Caltech, he got a degree in applied physics doctorate, and the art of origami that has been revived in his hands.
  In the 1990s, Lang developed a computer program called TreeMaker, which was used for more complicated designs. The designer could draw a skeleton model on the screen according to the style he conceived. The most efficient folding type, the second program is called ReferenceFinder, which can determine the order of each folding method according to the needs of the design model. Lang said that when he conceived and designed his origami works, he seldom used these computer programs, usually when he suddenly had a certain idea of ​​inspiration, and he needed to design a basic framework for a special pattern. You will need those computer programs, the computer will give you a variety of folding methods to choose from, and then go back and draw with a pen and paper, and then fold by hand.
  In fact, the complex art of origami, which combines science and art, has great potential to solve some difficult problems related to the folding structure of metal sheets, such as solar panels used in space technology, control of robot arms performance, etc. In medicine, research is also underway, such as the development of a novel foldable vascular stent that can be inserted into fragile arteries and then expanded once in place.
  In Germany, researchers working on airbags start by simulating the shape of the bag when it is folded, but their design software can’t do that. Lang developed a computational algorithm that allows engineering researchers to fold out the various shapes of the airbag as it deforms in a simulation experiment. Long is also working with engineers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to discuss the design of a new generation of space telescopes. outer planets. It is very difficult to put such a behemoth into space, and the space that the space shuttle can accommodate is only a mere 15 feet in diameter. Lang has designed a foldable solution for a prototype 16-foot-diameter telescope that folds up during transport and blooms like a flower once in its intended location in space.
  Lang is currently working on his second book on mathematically precise design of folding techniques, and at the same time he is contemplating the origami of a giant toothless pterosaur with a 16-foot wingspan alone , the work will add more splendor to Canada’s natural science museums. He said that the art of origami started with a traditional skill, and the art of origami that integrates modern science will reflect its light in various fields of technology, and its application possibilities are endless, just waiting for people to explore and develop.