Periodically, we get these “Ask a Scienceblogger” questions via email asking for someone to volunteer to answer. Usually I don’t feel like I have anything to add, but this one was frivolous enough for me to know something about it… Sorry for the not-a-molecule post, back with the regular content tomorrow.
A square piece of dry paper can not be folded in half more than 7 times. Why?
Actually, it’s a myth:
Once, in undergrad, an acquaintance offered up a bet for $100 to anyone who could fold a piece of paper nine times (or some other number greater than conventional myth – eight, maybe). Coincidentally, I had just read the above link and was pretty sure I could find the right paper, so I took the bet. The next day, at the lab, I used a bunch of Kimwipes (very thin tissue, available in large sizes).
Gluing the edges together, I made an enormous piece of tissue paper that, sure enough, I could fold the appointed number of times (if I recall correctly, I went for one extra for an added bit of showmanship). I only ever ran into this guy on the weekends, so I was in the awkward position of carrying this are-you-happy-to-see-me wad of paper all around town on the off chance I’d see him. Fortunately it was only a couple weeks until we ran into each other. I triumphantly unfolded my ~8ftx8ft paper, nine times, as promised (in public, naturally – I forget where).
He never paid up, though!