Appearing in National Geographic‘s “Big Idea” section, this article details some cool and surprising modern uses of the ancient art of origami, or paper folding. Mathematicians have recently been studying origami using geometric ideas and, as physicist Robert G. Lang is quoted, “It’s now mathematically proven that you can pretty much fold anything.” Some of the designs include folding mirrors and lenses for satellite use, arterial stents for medical use, and at least one common everyday use:

When engineers working on the design of car air bags asked Lang to figure out the best way to fold one into a dashboard, he saw that his algorithm for paper insects would do the trick. “It was an unexpected solution,” he says.