Magical Folds!

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In India, we have four to five months of grueling hot summer and around mid-June the weather starts changing. The air becomes heavy, winds start blowing indicating the arrival of monsoon season. I love the first rain of the season. I love to go out in the rain and soak myself in the first rain. Rainy season reminds me of the fresh smell of earth, clean washed roads and tree leaves and a cup of hot ginger tea with plate of Bhajji (a fried snack made of chickpea flour, onion and spinach…Yummm!). It also reminds me the paper boats we used to make and as soon as the rain stops we used to rush out of home to put them in the water puddles outside our home.  Those paper boats were my only exposure to Origami! I know…:)!

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Origami…It is a traditional Japanese paper folding art. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origami) In this art, an artist creates different shapes by folding a square paper sheet. The types of folds include valley and mountain folds, pleats, reverse fold and sinks. You can make anything  by folding the paper for example: an elephant, a cat. Your imagination is the only limit! It’s amazing!  Yesterday we watched a documentary on Origami (Between the folds! Available on Netflix …Must watch!!!) in our class and I was completely blown away. It is pure magic to see a plain square of paper transforming into a beautiful sculpture… so intricate…so detailed!

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Previously Origami was considered only as an art but now a days it is taught in some engineering schools as a part of curriculum. Scientist have discovered that there is a mathematical base behind these folds. Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura developed a folding pattern based on origami that can be opened with single pull. It is called Miura- Ori. These folds are used in solar panel. The advantage of this fold is that you can fold large surface in to small area which is useful in transportation.

Nature also uses Origami. Have you observed insect’s wings? Whenever an insect is not in flight the wings remain folded and as soon as insect flies the wings span out! Our body is made of different proteins. All these proteins are made of long chains of amino acids and are folded to form structures. If the protein folding goes wrong we get a disease! Scientist are studying the protein folding mechanism from Origami point of view. Does protein folding follow any pattern?

Only time will tell if we can ‘unfold’ the mystery behind of protein folds!

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