Origami Indistinguishable From Magic

cuckoo clock

VQR’s interview with origami wizard Robert Lang is geeky, unfathomable, and incredibly cool:

Joshua Foer: I want to start by asking you about how you made a name for yourself in the field of origami. As I understand, it all started with a single work you completed in 1987.

Yes, the cuckoo clock. It has leaves around the outside and a deer’s head on top, and a cuckoo, of course, coming out the door, and pinecone weights, and the pendulum, and all of this is folded from a single uncut sheet of paper. Oh, and it told the correct time twice a day. That got a lot of attention in the origami world, which is a very small world but it’s still got a lot of competition. After that, one thing led to another.

Just so we’re all clear about the terms here: That was folded with one uncut sheet of paper — ​no glue?

No glue.

How big was the paper?

A one-​by-​ten-​foot rectangle.

Lang, who talks about origami’s effect on medicine and industrial design (and has more than 50 patents under his name and was formerly the editor of a quantum electronics journal) gives heartening career advice (“Pursue your passion and not really worry about whether there’s a practical payoff. Many things you wouldn’t have thought would have a practical payoff, like paper-​folding, turn out to have one”) that is also probably best followed under condition of first being a genius. [VQR]