February 24, 03

Vol. 18 , No. 08   

View Entire Issue (Vol. 18 , No. 08)

The Beauty and Art of Paper Folding for the Origamically Challenged

When most people think of mathematics, they imagine complicated equations and immediately feel queasy. In actuality, mathematics is an uplifting intellectual pursuit that involves creativity and imagination, and seeks to uncover and understand hidden structure in nature and our world. In this way, mathematicians are both artists and explorers. In his Athenaeum lecture Professor Edward Burger will avoid making his after-dinner audience feel ill with an overdose of formulas and numbers, and will instead lead the audience in considering the creative and artistic aspects of mathematics through the folds of a sheet of paper. Can you find beauty and surprising patterns in simple objects? Can you teach the speaker how to make a swan out of a piece of paper? Can interesting mathematics arise from making a paper airplane? The answers to these questions are three-fold, and if you're bent on hearing some of them, then we're all on the same page.

Edward Burger is a professor of mathematics at Williams College, and is the author of a long list of research articles, books, and CD-ROM video texts. He is known the world over for his entertaining and enlightening presentations. Burger has also made numerous appearances on radio and television, including various NPR affiliates and NBC-TV. Professor Burger was awarded the 2001 MAA Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo National Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of mathematics, the 2001 Robert W. Hamilton Book Award, and was named the 2001-2003 Polya Lecturer by the Mathematical Association of America. He was the 2001 Genevive W. Gore Distinguished Resident at Westminster College and the 2001 Cecil and Ida Green Honors Professor at Texas Christian University. Currently he is the Ulam Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.