Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A slightly daunting prospect

I was asked a few weeks ago if I would give a presentation to a Japanese Cultural Association here on origami and mathematics. A rather daunting prospect indeed, but I decided that I'd give it a go.
Tonight was the night. I had spent the past few weeks and especially days putting together some material: a bit of history about origami, a few demonstrations of simple things, and then I planned to spend the rest of the time (less than an hour in total) teaching them to fold a couple of nice things: the hyperbolic paraboloid and Tom Hull's PHiZZ units, so that they could fold dodecahedra etc.
We got off to a slow start: one of the key people in the group was late, and the decision was made to wait for her --- I was happy to do so, as she was the first one to contact me about speaking. It also took a bit longer to fold the hyperbolic paraboloid than I had anticipated, and in the end I went perhaps twenty minutes over the time I'd allotted. However, I think that it went very well: most of the attendees were Americans, but the few Japanese people there seemed to really like the presentation (as did the Americans, but I was more worried about people who might have grown up with a cultural appreciation of the art form!)

And then in the end, almost everybody stayed around afterwards to chat. I was particularly interested to find out that the woman who had turned up late was the daughter of a student of Akira Yoshizawa, widely considered to be responsible for the popularization of origami in Japan in the 1950's.

Yours, relieved that it went well,

1 comment:

Awareness said...

HOLY! Are you glad you didn't know that before you started? That would be really daunting. Good on you to tackle that challenge, N. Bravo!