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FLOTSAM: Folding

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350581.  Mon Jun 02, 2008 9:41 am Reply with quote

Question: How many times can you fold a piece of paper in half?

Forfeit: 5,6,7,8,9,10, as many as you like

Answer: You can actually fold a piece of paper up to 12 times, as American schoolgirl Britney Gallivan has demonstrated.

That you can only fold a piece of paper 8 times is one of those things that “everyone knows”, but it was debunked in December 2001 by US high school student Britney Gallivan. She also came up with the two equations that describes the mathematics of paper folding:


The former is the equation for folding in alternate directions, while the latter describes someone folding just lengthways. Looking at the two equations, she realised that folding a long sheet of paper in a single direction would be easiest.

L is the length of the material, d is the thickness, and n is the possible number of folds in a given direction, so as you can see, the number of folds depends on length, and thickness. Knowing this, Britney used a piece of toilet paper that was 1200 m in length and achieved her 12 folds.

The orthodoxy certainly holds for an A4 sheet of paper, if you managed to fold a piece of standard paper 8 times you would end up with a blob of paper that is thicker than it is long, and so cannot be folded further.

Assuming it were possible to fold paper without restriction, the height of a piece of folder paper would double in thickness each time it was folded. So a standard piece of paper folded 51 times would reach from the Earth to the sun.

Every inch of cargo was needed to transport food in WWII, so cows were folded. In fact, all carcasses intended for eating had their bones removed and were compressed and folded.

Further Sources:

Picture Ideas:
Can we get a graphic of the two equations please
And a pic of Britney with her folded paper would be useful (there are a couple, of which this is one)

755492.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:15 am Reply with quote

Can't belive all the fuss over a wrongly worded question.

The question should be "How many times can you fold a square piece of paper in half"

Or at least that was the way it was always posed when I first heard it many many moons ago and the answer was 7*.

*maybe 8 but I am pretty sure 7.

Oh an sorry for raising a zombie thread.

755547.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:01 pm Reply with quote

I like the term 'zombie thread' - never heard that before. Welcome, Steven :-)

755632.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:20 pm Reply with quote

Welcome you may like to announce yourself on knock knock

Untutored Eye
755642.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:02 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I like the term 'zombie thread' - never heard that before. Welcome, Steven :-)

In another forum I frequent it's called a Necrothread.

755646.  Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:33 pm Reply with quote

G'day Steven :)

Sadurian Mike
767170.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:08 pm Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:


Proof (if more was needed) that brains and beauty can go together.

Hubba hubba.

767177.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:31 pm Reply with quote

She reminds me of a young Debbie Harry.

Sadurian Mike
767193.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:54 pm Reply with quote

Yes she does resemble Ms Harry's younger self, now you mention it.

767200.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:09 pm Reply with quote

I doubt Debbie Harry spent much of her youthful existence trying to fold a piece of paper more than 7 times.

767236.  Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:27 pm Reply with quote

You never know....


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