World-renowned artist Robert Lang will present a free lecture next week on origami and its practical applications in mathematics, science and technology.

Titled “From Flapping Birds to Space Telescopes: the Modern Science of Origami,” the event will take place on Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. in the Engineering Sciences Building room 1001. The art aficionado will discuss how the links he has discovered between mathematics and origami have been applied to everyday technologies.

Although the cross-disciplinary union of origami with mathematics seems unprecedented, origami has been used in the last few decades in fields ranging from medicine to science, Lang said.

For example, Lang said, airbags are one innovation of origami’s practical application to technology. He said they must be folded very compactly in order to fit into the steering wheels of cars.

“The math for origami provided a solution to find the optimal crease patterns for flattening an airbag,” Lang said. “It helped the company design software to create the airbags we use today.”

As a leader in the creation and utilization of origami designs in modern science, Lang lectures frequently and has written multiple books. He has also created over 500 origami designs, which can be viewed on the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics Web site.

Lang graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a doctorate in applied physics and has since worked as an engineer, physicist and professional origami artist. He has also been awarded over 50 patents on semiconductor lasers, optics and integrated optoelectronics.

Mathematics Professor Jeffrey Stopple, who is organizing the event, said the lecture will allow students to see the practical applications of mathematics in everyday life.

“I want students to pick up the big idea that there is more to mathematics than what you see in the classroom,” Stopple said.

To reserve a free seat, contact Stopple at