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What’s the maximum number of times that you can fold a piece of paper? © Getty Images

What’s the maximum number of times that you can fold a piece of paper?

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Forget your origami skills, folding an A4 piece of paper more than seven times is theoretically impossible. Challenge accepted!

Asked by: Alice Sheridan, Essex

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Trying to fold an ordinary sheet of A4 paper suggests that even eight times is impossible: the number of layers doubles each time, and the paper rapidly gets too thick and too small to fold. Such ‘geometric growth’ effects are dramatic: in theory, 26 folds would make the paper thicker than the height of Mount Everest.

The current world paper-folding record belongs to California high school student Britney Gallivan, who in 2002 managed to fold a 1.2km-long piece of tissue paper 12 times.

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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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