Origami, Physics and Math



fold realize find out
wrap develop cylindrical
fit rocket geometry
air inflate subject (3)
allow control wonderful
piece step (2) relatively
peace creation complicated
shape partner move (2)
airbag explore equation
solve pattern find/found/found
create pattern drive/drove/driven (2)
round bundle driving force
achieve feel/felt/felt






One of the most important attributes of origami is, once we have studied and understood the way paper folds and unfolds, we can apply those patterns to things that are very different from paper.

I hope by bringing the tools of mathematics into my origami design that I can then fold something that’s beautiful and that’s unexpected.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

My name is Robert Lang, and I’m a physicist and an origami artist. Origami is the Japanese name for the art of folding paper, and most origami is folded from a single sheet of paper, with no cuts or tears.

I have loved origami my entire life. I’ve pursued it ever since I was a kid, but my study was science and engineering. I worked for NASA doing research on lasers.

But throughout that whole time I had been pursuing origami, developing designs, and writing books. In 2001, I quit my job to try to make a career out of origami.

I’ve worked on a couple of different folding patterns that were round and would wrap into a cylindrical geometry to fit into a rocket; and I developed an airbag in a car that inflates from a small, folded bundle.

So, whenever an engineer creates something that opens and closes in a controlled way, they can make use of the folding patterns of origami.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Over the years, math has allowed me to realize as an artist, shapes and creations that I couldn’t achieve any other way.

Traditional origami was relatively simple. The designs would have taken maybe 20 or 30 steps at most.

But today, origami pieces can be so complicated that they can have tens, hundreds, maybe even a thousand steps. When I’m folding, it’s like working with an old friend. It’s like dancing with a partner whose moves I know.

If I move this way, I know my partner is going to move that way, and so I explore the math, develop the equations, solve the equations, create the folding pattern, and then I find out what it looks like, and, as often as not, it is beautiful.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

For me, the driving force is that there’s always something new to try: a new problem, a new subject, a new shape that I didn’t think I was able to create before, but now I think I know how to realize it, and each time I solve a problem I get this wonderful feeling, and you want more of those feelings.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


Sketch, Draw. Are origami and engineering two entirely separate entities? Is there a crossover between the art of origami and science and technology?

Paint. All origami involved cutting up and gluing together different pieces of paper. True or false?

Clay Figurines. Robert Lang started doing origami when he attended an art academy. Is this right or wrong?

Ceramics. Robert like folding paper as a youth, but outgrew and forgot about it, when he become a NASA scientist.

Sculpture. How has origami influenced engineering? What are some examples of how origami influenced engineering?

Metalwork, Bronze Casting. Does Robert make a few simple origami figurines, like birds and fishes?

Basket Weaving. Is Robert a “regular, traditional” origamist? How is he different?
Rug, Carpet Weaving. I have seen origami figurines. Yes or no?

Marble Sculpture. Have you or your friends made origami figurines or objects?

Wood Carving. Could origami be a business as objects and works for sal or classes for children and hobbyists?

Glass Blowing. What might happen in the future?

Knitting, Crocheting. Could origami be a hobby or pastime for children, senior citizens and adults? Could it be more than just a hobby, i.e. therapy, stress relief?

Comments are closed.