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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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How Hokusai’s Great Wave emerged from Japan’s isolation to become a global icon
Watch the elegant flow of a sheep herd, seen from the sky above Israel
How would a piano sound on Mars? Embark on an interplanetary sonic journey
The ancient world
Not a lost kingdom but a parable – how to read Athens in Plato’s story of Atlantis
Meaning and the good life
Albert Camus built a philosophy of humanity on a foundation of absurdity
Design and fashion
Gear up for a stylish celebration of vintage motorcycle design
An ode to the humble rotifer – one of nature’s simplest and strangest creatures