After I graduated FSL discovery year, I always wanted to do a blog post just for the sake of it. In my discovery years, I viewed the blog posts as a chore; but now, as I graduated, I think writing these blogs are enjoyable. More or less, I regret not writing more blogs in my discovery. Anyways, if I am allowed to write more on this site, (which I hope I am) I will continue my blogging journey.
So… Today, I brought the hexaflexagon story with me. Familiar with recreational math or not, please bear with me on this interesting and RECREATIONAL (I claim), math journey. I added some fictional thinking patterns of the mathematicians so that the story telling doesn’t get boring.
This math story that I am about to tell originated from Arthur H. Stone who just moved from England to U.S. in 1939. He got school supplies from England and brought it to U.S., and on the first day of school, he found out that his new American paper doesn’t fit in his old English binder. It was, in fact, too wide, and hanged out. He had to trim off the extra paper and ended up with the strips of paper. And to keep himself amused in the next lecture, Arthur folded it into shapes. And one of them, turned out to be special, very special; in fact, it was a special hexagon, a collapsible hexagon.
Well, a strip of paper is quite fascinating; you can fold it into stars, squares, and fancy spirals. However, Stone wrapped it around in a hexagon with a nice symmetric cycle. In fact, the strip of paper was long enough to make a stable hexagon. Stone folded it on all the symmetry line and had a collapsible hexagon to amuse him a little in class. As the lecture went on and on with his very funny jokes, Stone was thinking about the hexagon: “since hexagons have 6-way symmetry, why don’t try 3-way fold with the flappy side up, and collapsing it down.” Suddenly his hexagon decides to open right up. “Wait what?” He closed it back up and undid it. “The center is secured and cannot be opened. But if you fold it symmetrically again, it flips inside out. Weird!” Stone knew he had found something bizarre and decided to recreate a new model with colored sides. In his journey to color it, Stone found out his paper had three sides. “Now this thing is definitely worth something! Therefore, a cool name is a must. And since it shapes like a hexagon and it is flexible; and flex rhymes with hex, hexaflexagon it is. ”
And that is about it. Even though hexaflexagon is extremely interesting as the name sounds, it is hard to apply hexaflexagon into daily life. We generally do not “flex” anything in our daily life. In the 1960s, an attempt to incorporate hexaflexagon in toys failed. The recreational element, however, will forever remain in hexaflexagons.