Posted by: cochinblogger | July 20, 2009

Paper Power

Over breakfast one morning, my father told me about a news item he’d read in that day’s newspaper. A worker in a paper factory had been killed by a bundle of paper that fell on him. “Killed by paper,” he remarked.

The same day, at work, a colleague told me about something interesting he’d read on the Net: a piece of paper, irrespective of its size, cannot be folded more than eight times. He’d even confirmed it empirically. I dismissed it as a myth, but was surprised to see on the Net that it’s not a myth (http://www.pomonahistorical.org/12times.htm). Apparently, a schoolgirl has done some remarkable work on the problem. I’m not mathematically naive, but I hadn’t heard of this before. It was a humbling experience.

Also, how did the subject of paper make such an impression on my father’s and colleague’s minds on the same day, and why did both choose to share their impressions with me? Another of those coincidences we attribute to chance?

And while on the subject of paper power, I know from personal experience that the edges of machine-cut paper can cut like a knife. Handle with care!

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