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With roots in the 17th century, traditional Japanese origami mines beauty from rules, limitations and, ultimately, mathematics. But there’s more to origami than just aesthetic value – scientists, engineers and designers have borrowed from the art form for a wide range of practical purposes. As this short from TED-Ed details, this includes a ‘starshade’ proposed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, intended to block exoplanet-hunting space telescopes from the glare of distant stars. Featuring appealing and instructive stop-motion visuals from the French animator Charlotte Arene, this short provides a nifty primer on how origami artists are able to fold square pieces of paper into near-infinite forms both beautiful and useful.
Raw solar-storm footage is the punk-rock antidote to sleek James Webb imagery
Dazzling timelapse shows how microbes spoil our food – and sometimes enrich it
An animator wonders: can you ever depict someone without making them a caricature?
Can art in a swanky restaurant ever be transcendent? On Rothko’s Seagram Murals
Like pop music, humpback whale songs spread, mutate, and fall out of fashion
History of ideas
Peter Singer charts the path from Hegelian philosophy to Marxist revolution
An interstellar voyage explores the ‘paradox’ of twins separated by light years
Film and visual culture
At the movies with Pauline Kael – in the arthouse cinema where she got her start
Mood and emotion
‘Let me dream you into my reality’: memories illuminate an unthinkable isolation