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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.
The two women behind a world-changing scientific discovery
Values and beliefs
A Zen Buddhist priest voices the deep matters he usually ponders in silence
Why surgery and barbering were one occupation in the Middle Ages
Thinkers and theories
‘My art is oratory, Socrates.’ An ancient warning on the power and peril of rhetoric
Mind-bending speed is the only way to reach the stars – here are three ways to do it
Biography and memoir
As her world unravels, Pilar wonders at the ‘sacred geometry’ that gives it structure
Meaning and the good life
Why strive? Stephen Fry reads Nick Cave’s letter on the threat of computed creativity
Human rights and justice
‘I know that change is possible’ – a Deaf prison chaplain’s gospel of hope
Find the building blocks of nature within a single, humble snowflake