Physics Colloquium–Folding Paper: Visual Art Meets Mathematics

The next General Physics Colloquium and Kieval Lecture, “Folding Paper:  Visual Art Meets Mathematics”, will be given by Professor Erik Demaine, MIT, on Monday, March 7 at 4:00 pm in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall.  Refreshments will be served at 3:30-3:50 on the second floor of Rockefeller Hall.

Prof. Demain’s website is at

Graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduate physics majors will have an exclusive opportunity to meet with the speaker immediately following the colloquium in 403 Physical Sciences Building.


Abstract:  My father Martin Demaine and I like to blur the lines between art and mathematics, by freely moving from designing sculpture to proving theorems and back again.  Paper folding is a great setting for this approach, as it mixes a rich geometric structure with a beautiful art form.  Mathematically, we are continually developing algorithms to fold paper into any shape you desire.  Sculpturally, we have been exploring curved creases, which remain poorly understood mathematically, but have potential applications in robotics, deployable structures, manufacturing, and self-assembly.  By integrating science and art, we constantly find new inspirations, problems, and ideas: proving that sculptures do or don’t exist, or illustrating mathematical beauty through physical beauty.  Collaboration, particularly as a father-son team, has been a powerful way for us to bridge these fields.  Lately we are exploring how folding changes with other materials, such as hot glass, opening a new approach to glass blowing, and finding new ways for paper and glass to interact.



The Colloquium schedule may be found on the Physics Department website at: