New research about how paper crumples was done in the same chunk of Harvard that produced an Ig Nobel Prize-winning study about how sheets get wrinkled. It builds on—and adds new wrinkles to—that earlier research.
Siobhan Roberts reports, in the New York Times, about the paper-crumpling study:
This Is the Way the Paper Crumples
In a ball of paper, scientists discover a landscape of surprising mathematical order.
While working on his doctoral thesis at Harvard over the last few years, Omer Gottesman spent a lot of time at his desk crumpling sheets of paper, especially when he was stuck. He’d crumple a sheet, uncrumple it, stare into its depths, and think, “There must be something that would make all this mess look a little less messy.”
Crumple, uncrumple, crumple. Sheet after sheet landed in the recycling bin, each one blank but for its chaotically creased geography. In time, a semblance of order emerged.
Crumpled wads of paper are no doubt as old and commonplace as paper itself — “graves for failed theories,” Mr. Gottesman, a physicist, has called them. But for him, the crumpled paper itself was the research….
REFERENCE FOR THE PAPER-CRUMPLE RESEARCH: “A state variable for crumpled thin sheets,” Omer Gottesman, Jovana Andrejevic, Chris H. Rycroft, and Shmuel M. Rubinstein, Communications Physics, epub 2018.
REFERENCES FOR THE SHEET-WRINKLE RESEARCH: “Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension,” E. Cerda, K. Ravi-Chandar, L. Mahadevan, Nature, vol. 419, October 10, 2002, pp. 579-80.
“Geometry and Physics of Wrinkling,” E. Cerda and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, fol. 90, no. 7, February 21, 2003, pp. 074302/1-4.
“Elements of Draping,” E. Cerda, L. Mahadevan and J. Passini, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 101, no. 7, 2004, pp. 1806-10.
The new paper about paper wrinkles cites three research studies published by Cerda and Mahadevan.
BONUS FACT (somewhat related): At the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, many, many paper airplanes fly. Quite a few of them are, or become, crumpled.