The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Paperfolding in Scientific American
 
This page records articles and pictures etc relating to paperfolding which have been published in Scientific American magazine over the years. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

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1885

This picture of a child wearing a newspaper hat while riding a mechanical hobby horse appeared in the issue of Scientific American for 9th May 1885. Information from Juan Gimeno.

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The Flapping Bird appeared in the USA as 'A Mechanical Bird Made of Paper' on p. 7921 of Scientific American, supplement no 486 of July 4, 1885 (information from Juan Gimeno). The article was reprinted from La Nature.

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1894

An article on 'Paper Birds', which were really bird shaped paper gliders, weighted with pins, was published in the Scientific American Supplement vol 37 of 1894 on pages 15184/5. It was reprinted from an article in the New York Sun.

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1956

An article titled 'Flexagons', written by Martin Gardner, was published in issue 195 of Scientific American in Dec 1956. This article explained how to make and flex some basic straight strip hexaflexagons. It also stated that hexaflexagons had been invented in 1939 by Arthur Stone, then studying at Princeton, which were further developed by a 'Flexagon Committee' consisting of Stone himself, Bryant Tuckerman, Richard Feynman and John Tukey (all of whom were to go on to become famous in other ways) and that 'A complete mathematical theory of flexigation was worked out in 1940 by Tukey and Feynman.'

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1957

The letters column of Scientific American Vol. 196, No. 3 of March 1957, pp. 8-20, contained several letters relating to flexagons, one of which, from Martin Gardner, gave a strip from which a heptahexaflexagon could be constructed.'

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1958

The May 1958 issue of 'Scientific American' included an article by Martin Gardner titled 'About Tetraflexagons and Tetraflexigation' which explains how to make and flex the tri-tetraflexagon, a tetra-tetraflexagon and a hexa-tetraflexagon, describes and illustrates the Flexatube and gives the Central Line solution.

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1959

The July 1959 issue of 'Scientific American' included an article by Martin Gardner titled 'About origami, the Japanese art of folding objects out of paper which included diagrams for the Pentagonal Knot and See-Through Pentagram, a parabola, a calculus problem and the Flapping Bird.

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1971

The May 1971 issue of 'Scientific American' included an article by Martin Gardner titled 'The Combinatorial Richness of Folding a Piece of Paper' which contained instructions for making a paperfolding puzzle by William Dudeney and three others by Robert E Neale ie., Beelzebub, the Cross Flexagon and the Sheep and Goats puzzle. The solutions were published in the June 1971 issue.

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