Throughout 2012, IFF director Margaret Wertheim has spearheaded a campus-wide project at the University of Southern California to build a giant model of a three-dimensional fractal known as the Mosely Snowflake Sponge. The initiative is part of a year-long series of events Margaret has curated for the USC Libraries in her role as the inaugural Discovery Fellow.
The Mosely Snowflake Sponge is on exhibition at USC's Doheny Library. Exhibition Dates: September 20 - December 15, 2012
A partially constructed “tower module” of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge in the rotunda of the USC Doheny Library (March 2012).
ABOUT THE MOSELY SNOWFLAKE SPONGE PROJECT
In 1926, mathematician Karl Menger discovered the first three-dimensional fractal, which came to be called, in his honor, the Menger Sponge. Eighty years later Dr. Jeannine Mosely, an MIT-trained engineer, built a model of this extraordinary object using 66,000 business cards. In 2006 the Institute For Figuring curated an exhibition of this Business Card Menger Sponge at Machine Project in Los Angeles.
USC student Betty Yu, constructing business card cubes at the USC Doheny Library (March 2012).
Now Dr. Mosely has discovered a relative of Menger’s original fractal—the Mosely Snowflake Sponge. This new fractal has a six-fold symmetry that calls to mind the hexagonal beauty of a snow crystal.
During the spring + summer of 2012, Mosely and Wertheim will undertake a project for the USC Libraries to construct this form out of 49,000 business cards. This is the first time in the history of the world that this wondrous fractal object will be brought into being.
Students, faculty, members of the USC community, and interested citizens of Los Angeles are invited to join with the USC Libraries in this campus-wide celebration of mathematics, art, engineering, and the library as a place of discovery and invention.
From January through August, the libraries will be hosting a series of workshops to teach the techniques for creating modules of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge. The finished fractal will be exhibited in the rotunda of the USC Doheny Library during Fall 2012.
Partially constructed “spine” for a “tower module” of the Mosely Snowflake Sponge, at the USC Library (March 2012).
Dr Jeannine Mosely working on a “tower module” of the Snowflake Sponge, in the rotunda of the USC Doheny Library (March 2012).
More information about the mathematics of the Menger Sponge and the history of the Business Card Menger Sponge, can be seen at the IFF’s online exhibit about the project.
Dr Jeannine Mosely teaching students to fold business card cubes at the USC Doheny Library (March 2012).
Dr Jeannine Mosely is a Boston-based software engineer who specializes in 3-D modeling programs. A pioneer in the field of mathematical paper folding, Dr Mosely is one of the leading practitioners of business card origami and one of the foremost researchers of curved folding.
Business card for constructing the Mosely Snowflake Sponge. Design by Howard Smith
Dr. Jeannine Mosely explains the basics of constructing components of the Snowflake Sponge fractal in these video tutorials: