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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

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By pleating a square sheet of paper with a pattern of concentric squares, one can fold a saddle shape that mathematicians call a hyperbolic paraboloid, sometimes nicknamed a hypar. Erik Demaine led a workshop at a recent Museum of Mathematics event where he showed how multiple hypars can be assembled to make star-like geometric forms. During the Math Encounters presentation, fifty people folded hypars and joined them to make this construction.

There are twenty four sheets all together, arranged as a group of four for each face of an imagined cube. Erik’s paper about the mathematical ideas and detailed folding instructions to make your own pleated hypars are available on his web site, here.

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See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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