Mark and I are already working on some different ideas involving his work on the dark-matter sheet. I had a fun time digging into some of his publications as well as reading up on dark matter. We’re planning on creating some visualizations that can provide insight into the weirdness of the multidimensional matter that pervades the universe.
We shared some inspirations and past projects to get our gears turning. Mark shared with me a remarkable documentary on origami and folding that he was featured in. Unfortunately, it’s only available for purchase, but I would say it’s worth it. It’s in French, and it’s called “Un monde en plis - Le code origami”. It details the ways in which various disciplines have learned to look to origami, with topics such as protein folding, biological growth, and Mark’s mention on cosmology. I shared with him a documentary on a singular paper folder by the name of Ron Resch. Mark mentioned he had read sources that cite Resch’s work, but had done any further investigating. This one is called “Paper and Stick”:
I’ve only just seen the wonderful stick models that Mark created to model the dynamics of tetrahedral collapse, a 3D twist fold developed to show an idealized version of dark matter halo formation. His portion of this week's blog shows some images of 2D twist folds as well as shares his animated tetrahedral collapse models. He also shares the blog post from 2011 when I worked on an in-class collaboration with artist and designer Dennis Dreher at Rhode Island School of Design. This is what I thought of when Mark mentioned wanting to model a web of nodes undergoing 3D twist folds: to show what cosmologists think happened at the very beginning of the universe. Tiny fluctuations in the nearly uniform early universe caused dark matter to fold up in denser regions, and expand in void regions, leading to the aggregation of matter in the denser regions, where galaxies form. Dark matter comprises about 27% of the matter and energy in the observable universe, with dark energy taking up a whopping 68%. It turns out most of the universe is strange and invisible to electromagnetic detection!
I will be creating some models to share for next post!
Lizzy and I are discussing some practicalities of making a 3D "cosmic web" of nodes ... In a 2D "Flatland" universe, it's possible to simulate a cosmic web with origami, using origami "twist folds", like in the below picture. The top row shows "crease patterns" for the origami, that gets folded up as in the bottom row. Each triangular node schematically corresponds to a galaxy.
A 3D twist fold (more relevant to our 3D universe!) is pretty difficult to imagine, unfortunately, and I hope our collaboration can help to get that idea across! In 2D, a twist fold generates structure ultimately by turning a shape, like a triangle as in the above example. 3D twist folds similarly generate structure by rotating a solid by some 3D angle. One such version is below on the left, and a version that doesn't rotate but just inverts is below on the right. In that, the surfaces represent "creases" along which space is folded from the initial to final state.
This weekend, I constructed versions of the "folded" and "unfolded" states of the latter design (the non-rotating, inverting twist fold) out of straws of different thicknesses: red coffee stirrers, and black straws. The straws represent the edges of creases in the above movies ... I made a little movie trying to show their 3D structure (see above). The larger, "folded" state is sort of possible to figure out, but the smaller, "unfolded" state is very hard to figure out and just looks like a jumble of straws! Definitely some work is necessary to get something readily comprehensible out of this!
Lizzy introduced me to the idea of "jitterbugs"; it would be awesome to make a jitterbuggy version of one of these cosmic web networks, if possible! Here's a blog post and video of such a jitterbug project that she participated in herself:
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Lizzy Storm is an artist and owner of Lizzy Storm Designs based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mark Neyrinck is an award-winning astrophysicist and cosmologist, and a postdoctoral researcher at Durham University, United Kingdom.