Reverse Engineering – Cardboard Sphere

I was 12 when I discovered that I had a talent for reverse engineering. I remember browsing in a bookshop and being utterly fascinated by a Japanese book on modular origami. One model in particular totally captivated me. It was a sphere made out of several pieces of corrugated cardboard, cleverly slit in specific places and then slotted together to form the sphere. The book was entirely in Japanese, and was too expensive to buy, so I basically committed the sphere design to memory.

In the car going home, my mind was furiously processing the how-tos for recreating that sphere. I somehow knew my calculations would incorporate the radius and circumference of circles, and that I would also need to segment each circular piece of corrugated cardboard uniformly so they all slotted together perfectly. I also instinctively knew the slits would have to be the same width as the thickness of the cardboard.

Back home, I raced to my room to start on my project. In my mind’s eye, I could see how each piece fitted with the next, and where the slits should be. So I grabbed some old corrugated cardboard boxes and an Exacto knife and got to work.

It worked! Mind you, this is going back nearly 35 years, before iPhones and Facebook even existed, and certainly before mobile phone cameras were even hinted at. So, my original sphere is long gone, but the design still exists in my memory.

I found an example of it on Google Images, here it is:


Beautiful, isn’t it? I was so proud of my own sphere that it sat proudly on my desk for years and I believe it helped me concentrate on my studies, serving as a reminder that my Math may not be so good, but by heck could I reverse engineer!

While surfing Google searching for an example of my sphere, I found these other modular beauties too:







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