Math Monday: Modular Kirigami

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3927 Articles

By Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3927 Articles

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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

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With paper and scissors and patience, you can make an amazing variety of mathematical forms. The paper sculpture below consists of twenty identical components that form a complex linkage. They lock together without glue in a very symmetric arrangement.

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If you want to try this, the template for the construction is the blue shape below. Twenty copies are required. Note that there will be twelve 5-sided openings like the one at the center of the above image.

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With sixty copies of the above “3”-shaped template, one can make thirty copies of the “8” shape, which interlock to form the construction below. It also holds together without glue.

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“Kirigami” is the Japanese art of paper cutting. Because these constructions involve many identical copies of a single module, I call them “Modular Kirigami.” For more examples and larger-scale templates, see this paper [PDF].

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