If you’ve just read Chaos Kindness & Satchmo, you’ll know why you’re here.
If not, take a look back. Context is everything… Jump Back
In keeping with our lyrical back-referencing, take ‘Fly me to the Moon’.
So if we were going to take up this challenge, how far is the Moon? Well for a start it’s not a constant distance. The average is 384,400 kilometers but it ranges from 363,104 km to 405,696 km and is actually drifting away from us at a rate 3.8 cm a year. [Now here’s a curious fact. In order to find this out, the drifting that is, we’ve known how far away the moon is since 200 BC, they fitted some tiny reflectors on the Moon’s surface and bounce laser-light off them. Guess how big the reflectors are? 3.8 cm. Coincidence? I think not…]
Anyway, lunar drifting aside, why are we looking at this? Well, you know that flimsy cheap and nasty printer paper you sometimes buy? The one that’s about 75 gsm and only just thick enough to use without ripping? It’s flimsy because it’s only a tenth of a millimeter thick.
Imagine a sheet of this paper so long that you could just keep folding it in half and then over in half again, for as many times as you wanted to. How many times would you need to fold it in half for it to become as thick as the distance from the earth to the Moon? A million? A billion? No.
Honestly. Check it. (See below *)
It turns out that not only is 42 the answer to the ultimate question and all that Hitchhikers Guide malarkey, it’s how close the Moon is. The Moon is only 42 folds of thin paper away. That’s the power of doubling. Double it. Double it again.
Doubling 42 times turns a tenth of a millimeter into space travel.
Origami Space Travel:
- 75 gsm paper is a tenth of a millimeter thick.
- A tenth of a millimeter is 0.1mm = 0.01 cm = 0.0001 m = 0.0000001 km
- The Moon is 409,696km from earth at it’s furthest away.
- Fold the paper in half. It is now 0.0000002 km thick
- …and again = 0.0000004 km; …again = 0.0000008 km and so on
- Try it on your calculator. It’s easier than real paper.
- Type in 0.0000001 x 2 and press equals. Then press x 2 and equals again. Each time it calculates the thickness after one more fold. Do this 42 times.
- You end up at 439,804.65 kilometers.
- Further than the Moon.
Origami Space Travel.
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HA HA That was my cup of tea! I always wondered about the distance and size thing. Some things are coincidence. I thought it was 3.8mm it drifts. Apollo 11 (YES MAN LANDED ON THE MOON) Fitted the thing you talk about. http://lunar.colorado.edu/publicfiles/tiny/images/apollo_11_retroreflectors.jpg
Interesting blog! Time travel always get’s my attention… lol
I thought you might like it!
I’ve just got to decide whether the 3.8 cm was an oversight or poetic licence for the sake of narrative causality…
It is, of course, 3.8 mm
Onwards to space by folding paper.
3.8cm, it would have passed Mars in the 1300’s 😀
And I will buy the paper 😀