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Why are NASA engineers borrowing techniques from origami artists?

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.

Video by TED-Ed

Director: Charlotte Arene

Writer: Evan Zodl

22 March 2021

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