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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.
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Witness the majesty of moths taking flight at 6,000 frames per second
Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars. The Nobel Prize went to her supervisor
In this 1975 lecture, the maglev train’s inventor deconstructs his ingenious design
Meaning and the good life
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Philosophy of mind
Caring for the vulnerable opens gateways to our richest, deepest brain states
History of ideas
How did ‘personal responsibility’ evolve into its opposite, ‘everyone for themselves’?
The Standard Model might be the most successful theory in science. But what is it?