I am looking in these post to technology that is or can become useful (at least potentially). However, once in a while, I stumble onto something that grabs my attention just because it is fun.
This is the case for this news, that although refers to a work that may result in quite useful applications, grabbed my attention because it is nice: look at the picture and tell me if you are not feeling the same!
A team of mathematicians at Harvard has studied origami and noticed, by the way, how some forms of origami has been adopted by Nature long before the Japanese discover them.
Take the Miura-ori origami. This is a form of repetitive folding of a sheet of paper to cover a plane with a sequence of ridges, mountains and valleys.
The team discovered, through mathematic modelling and computer simulation, that by slightly changing some parameters one can create 3D surfaces of any shapes (like in the picture) based on variation of Miura-ori.
The idea is that you choose what kind of curved 3D surface you want to obtain and the program will create a corresponding Miura-ori that can be created by folding a sheet of paper using a laser beam to trace the bending.
What can be done on a sheet of paper, can be done also on other types of materials, like a layer of graphene one atom thick.
It can also be done with sheets of plastics and this open the gates to some useful applications, as diverse as packaging space-bound payloads or stents to be placed in arteries.
So, it is not just nice and fun, it can also be useful. But I like it because it is so ... nice!