Using the work of dead people

I watched this TED talk this morning, about Origami, and was struck by a couple of things.

Apart from having a very cool job title – “Professional Origamist”  – he’s very big on the idea of ‘using the work of dead people’, by which he means, if a problem has been solved before, make use of it.

And a key part of being able to re-use those ideas is having a common language in which to express and transmit the ideas. So he’s using maths to describe how origami shapes can be created, and having arrived at a neat way to write down how to fold things, he can now move on to think about his subject area in a new way. Just look at the shapes he can produce:

Allomyrina dichotoma, opus 655
(c) Robert Lang – see

And so I leave the reader to work out what this has to do with modelling – you’re a smart bunch: go figure.