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Where Science and Art Intersect

by Anna Liu on September 29th, 2015

How Origami Can Help Us Explore Other Worlds

What does the Japanese art of paper folding have to do with helping scientists find and study Earth-like planets in other parts of our universe? Join Dr. Julien Lozi of Subaru Telescope/National Observatory of Japan, for “How Origami Can Help Us Explore Other Worlds” at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s next Maunakea Skies program on October 16, 2015 at 7 pm.

Exploration is part of human nature—whether settling a remote island in the middle of the vast Pacific or sending a man to the moon, humans have long been attempting the impossible to explore new horizons. Probes have been sent to all the major celestial bodies of our solar system, and now plans are envisioned to send humans to Mars and even more distant destinations in decades to come. Will we stop there? Or is it more likely that we will move on to explore some of the Earth-like exoplanets that the Kepler space telescope has shown to be abundant in the universe and to potentially harbor life?

In parallel with the discovery of exoplanets, mathematicians, scientists, and engineers have started to deconstruct the science hidden in origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. Origami applications have now been developed across numerous fields, including medicine, robotics, energy, automotive engineering, architecture, and, of course, astronomy and space exploration. With designs for unfolding giant structures, solar panels, new types of lenses or even cheap propulsion systems, origami can now help us find and study Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of nearby stars…and maybe one day help us travel to one of these exoplanets.

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Dr. Julien Lozi

Dr. Lozi is Senior Optical Scientist at Subaru Telescope/National Observatory of Japan. Born in France in 1985, he was introduced to both origami and astronomy at the age of 10 and has been avidly pursuing both subjects ever since. While studying optics and lasers for his master’s degree in France, he began to see the parallels between origami and optics and started an origami club teaching fellow engineering students how to fold and organizing public exhibits and demonstrations. A 6-month internship at Subaru Telescope in 2008 first introduced him to Hawaiʻi, before he went back to France to study for his Ph.D in astronomy.

After earning his doctorate from Université Paris-Sud XI in 2012, Dr. Lozi worked in Silicon Valley for two years at the NASA Ames Research Center, an experience that also afforded him an opportunity to learn new origami techniques and meet talented origami artists in California. In 2014, he returned to Hilo to accept his “dream job” at Subaru Telescope, where he is currently working on a first generation high contrast imaging instrument dedicated to the direct observation and characterization of exoplanets.
The Maunakea Skies program will be hosted by ‘Imiloa Planetarium Technician, Emily Peavy, who will provide observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, and point out prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.

‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. Cost is $8 for Individual, Dual, Kupuna and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold, and Corporate Members. Non-member rate is $10. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 969-9703.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to www.imiloahawaii.org, or call (808) 969-9703.

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