Eric Gjerde of Origami Tessellations recently Flickr'ed some wonderful images of Ron Resch, computer graphics pioneer, mathematician and origami innovator. His credits include patents for “self-supporting structural units” using tessellation techniques, as well as “geometric designs” (structures for spaceships) for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Of the many pioneering projects Resch was involved in, the 1974 Vegreville Pysanka is one of the most spectacular. A pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter Egg, decorated with intricate patterns that are often geometrical in nature. Using computer graphics techniques that were then cutting edge, Resch designed and built a giant pysanka sculpture using tiling techniques to create both structural integrity and geometric visuals. The photo shown above top left shows the sculpture being dedicated by Queen Elisabeth II.
Known also under the moniker “World’s Largest Easter Egg”, the Vegreville Pysanka is a wonder of mathematics. It is also considered the first-ever physical structure to be constructed entirely based on computer-aided geometry. Resch built it using principles he had pioneered in paper-folding experiments, techniques he also intended to be used for constructing larger structures. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes are probably better known, but Resch’s ideas of folding structures open the door for more geometric wonders.
Nicholas Rougeux likes Menger sponges. You know, the classic fractal shape created by Karl Menger, the one that gains an infinitely large surface area as it is iterated. The sponge has long been a favorite with computer graphics enthusiasts, but Rougeux does them one better. He builds Menger sponges as Origami sculptures using index cards.
Back in 2003 Rougeux built a level 3 sponge with over 66 thousand units (see image), taking over 7 months. This time he plans to build a level 4 version, a substantially more ambitious project that will entail 1.2 million units. So far he is at 0.29%, with 3774 units built. You can follow his progress and see more images over at Mengermania.
The Mengermania site also has a handy About section, giving more details about the sponge, as well as instructions about how to build one yourself. Definitely a way of impressing your friends. After all, the final result is very attractive.