Howard's Blog

This is Howard C. Park's blog. Interests: live music, simulations and modeling, languages, iPod, social and business networking, systems thinking, history of science, management, BBQ, trivia, good coffee, organizational learning, traveling, personal histories.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Try this at home!

Let me know if this works.

Take a clean sheet of paper (8.5x11 or A4) and lay it in front of you. Without touching it, imagine folding the paper in half (it doesn't matter which direction). Now, fold the page as you had imagined it. Did the paper "fold" like you had seen it in your mind? Of course it did. You've folded paper before, and even if you hadn't, it's not too difficult to "see in your mind" what the paper folding would look like.

Now try this. Take the same paper that's already folded, and without touching it, imagine folding it in half again. Then imagine folding it again. Imagine that you are "folding in half" six more times from the original fold. Take your time -- really try to imagine in your mind what the paper would look like.

Now, take the page and fold it like you had imagined it, i.e., fold it in half six additional times. What happens? Did the paper fold like you thought it would?

The "punchline" is that even for something that we're very familar with (like folding paper), at some point, our mind fails in its ability to "predict" or "see what will happen". Furthermore, it's even difficult to know at what point our previous experience fails us (at which fold did things start turning out differently than you had expected?). The complexity here is due to the magic of the power of two and the resulting "thickness".

This reminds me of the enterprising boy who tried to strike a deal with his father regarding allowances. That blog is for another day...(or night).

Do you think the "folding paper" demo is a good way to illustrate the "punchline" above? I do a lot of facilitation associated with my work, and am wondering if this actually works...
|| hcpark, 10:50 PM


I like your blog. You have a fresh way of looking at things.
~Sarah Hazel
Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:57 PM  
thanks Sarah!
Blogger hcpark, at 4:36 PM  
I was pretty impressed that a junior-high-schooler could do it.
Anonymous Nils, at 10:02 AM  
Interesting fact: if you could fold the paper 44 times, it would reach the moon. Visualize that!
Blogger Tory Gattis, at 9:56 PM  
It wasn't a junior-high-schooler, but a junior in high school. Having both living in my home right now, I can tell you there's a BIG difference. ~Sarah
Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:31 PM  

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