What’s the maximum number of times that you can fold a piece of paper?
Forget your origami skills, folding an A4 piece of paper more than seven times is theoretically impossible. Challenge accepted!
Asked by: Alice Sheridan, Essex
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.
Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.