The Latest Wrinkle in Crumple Theory
From studies of “geometric frustration,” scientists learn how paper folds under pressure.
A piece of crumpled paper, in all of its creased fragmentations, suffers from “geometric frustration.” Who among us can’t sympathize?
In a sense, creases happen when a thin sheet of material gets claustrophobia. “New creases form if a sheet doesn’t comfortably fit into its confined area,” said Jovana Andrejević, a Ph.D. student in applied physics at Harvard and the lead author of a new paper detailing the latest advances in paper crumpling.
“The sheet is stressed, so something needs to happen to relieve that stress,” Ms. Andrejević said. She was speaking from her childhood home outside Chicago, where she is living temporarily with her parents and her twin sister, Nina, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The formation of a crease is how the stress is relieved,” Ms. Andrejević said. “The role of the creases is effectively to protect as much of the sheet as possible from further damage.”