How to fold paper in half twelve times

Friday 26 December 2003This is close to 20 years old. Be careful.

Yesterday my brother challenged us to fold a piece of paper in half eight times, claiming it couldn’t be done, and we could not. We tried tissue paper, we tried large newsprint, but seven folds was all we could manage. I remembered a recent story about a high school girl who worked out the math for the problem, and managed twelve folds, by starting with a strip of paper a mile long or something: How To Fold Paper in Half Twelve Times. They don’t give details on the paper used, and the photo of the eleventh fold doesn’t look to me like she’ll manage a twelfth with it, but she exceeded eight for sure.


Wow... Now ain't that a blast from the past!? I hadn't thought about it in years, but I remember this problem from a long, long time ago. My cousin, a math major at Princeton at the time (now she's a Ph.D. crypto guru for Sun Microsystems), told us about the supposed limit of 7 folds, and at first I didn't believe it but of course I couldn't do any better.


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