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Molecules/Matter & Energy

How to fold a paper bag, plus good apples and designer silk in this week’s news

10:18am, April 3, 2011

Shopping bag origami
Folding a tall paper bag to lie perfectly flat is a problem that seems easy, but has only just been solved by a pair of engineers at Oxford University. Weina Wu and Zhong You’s shopping bag origami, tested in simulations and on actual physical bags, uses a special crease pattern to collapse such a container in a T shape that folds flat. In a paper appearing in the March 30 Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences, they write that assembly line robots should be able to handle the technique, which could be useful for shipping large quantities of packed bags or boxes. —Devin Powell


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