Folding paper…

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Great story… “How to Fold Paper in Half Twelve Times: An “Impossible Challenge” Solved and Explained”….

When my son was near the end of his primary school years, I thought that it was time that I should impart some of my Weird Freaky Science Wisdom – and have a little bit of fun as well. I told him that I would give him a million dollars if he could fold a piece of paper in half, and in half again, and so on for a total of 10 times. Of course he tried, and of course he failed.

I knew that this would happen, because it was “Accepted Wisdom” that it was impossible to fold a piece of paper in half 10 times (or seven, or nine, for that matter.). I told him that it couldn’t be done, even if he used paper the size of a football field. But I now know that I was wrong.

Suppose that you start with an standard A4 sheet of paper – about 300 mm long, and about 0.05 mm thick.

The first time you fold it in half, it becomes 150 mm long and 0.1 mm thick. The second fold takes it to 75 mm long and 0.2 mm thick. By the 8th fold (if you can get there), you have a blob of paper 1.25 mm long, but 12.8 mm thick. It’s now thicker than it is long, and, if you’re trying to bend it, seems to have the structural integrity of steel.

6 thoughts on “Folding paper…

  1. In fact you CAN fold a piece of paper 11 times, mythbusters did it using a huge football field size piece of paper…

  2. at Xargos: RTA, the story is really about how you can in fact fold paper more then 10 times. The person in the story folds it a total of 12 times (one-uping the mythbusters try). This is just a really poor summary of the article.

  3. If memory serves, they mentioned the 12-times folding by Britney Gallivan during the MB episode. The MB Build Team wanted to do the folding “this way” / “that way” as, that’s the standard technique thought of when you tell somebody “you can’t fold a piece of paper more than 7 times.”

    The story linked to is dated 2005, so, the writer could have no knowledge of the Mythbuster episode, which aired sometime in early 2007.


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