כ״א בכסלו ה׳תשע״ד (November 24, 2013)
By Yonatan Gordon
In the last article, I discussed some of the perspective-altering implications behind folding a cell phone display in half.
Upon thinking some more about folding cell phones, I began to wonder what would happen if a person could keep folding these displays over and over again? While the first generation of these foldables will probably be too rigid for this, eventually the ability to keep folding displays should become at least theoretically possible over time.
Although I didn’t find anyone who spoke about this specific topic, I did find scientists who have spent long hours trying to fold a piece of paper more than 7 or 8 times.
First the mathematics of paper folding…
Let’s start with a piece of paper the size of a newspaper spread that is one thousandth of a centimeter thick (0.001 cm). When the paper is folded once the thickness is now 0.002 cm, twice the original thickness. The third time makes it 0.004, the fourth 0.008. If we continue to fold it in half over and over again, after 10 folds, the width would be 210 or 1.024 cm; 17 folds 217 would be 131 cm or just over four feet. At 25 folds we get 33,554 cm or just over 1,100 feet. The smaller the paper becomes, the exponentially taller the paper. After 48 times, the length is a staggering 1,749,004 miles!
You can imagine that it doesn’t take many more folds to go outside our solar system entirely, and then reach the edge of the observable universe, all from this one piece of paper.
Remember the good ol’ days when the “cell phone” of choice was two tin cans strung together? One way to abstract our folded paper example is to postulate that if I fold my phone enough times, I wouldn’t have to rely on cell towers and satellites. Instead,I would be able to fold my phone until it reaches my friend, then like the string with two cans, we’d find a way to allow the sound of our voice to travel back and forth.
Although it would be fun to try this out, there is a more profound lesson we can take from this allegory of the folded phone. It relates to the communication methods of two great Jewish leaders.
King David Communication
From last time, we know that in virtue of David being both small and big, he was both able to slay Goliath and become king of Israel. In our analogy, this relates to the folded piece of paper (or cell phone) that becomes both smaller and exponentially taller with each fold. In the language of Chassidut, King David was a person who constantly diminished himself in order to reveal the Divine oneness (אחד) of creation.
Moses, however, revealed the “transcendent oneness” (יחיד) of G-d which permeates all the worlds. Whereas King David’s lowliness is a lesson in “folding” into reality with more “oneness,” Moses teaches us how to tunnel through the zero-point of each of these folded dimensions. Whereas Moses more easily traveled from side of creation to the other, King David signified a sequential process from one quantum leap to the next.
Part of the criticism behind the paper folding notion, is that even though it seems mathematically sound, people aren’t quite sure what to do with it. Even if I could theoretically fold a piece of paper that would reach from here to the end of the universe, the travel from Point A to Point B still seems bumpy, with none of the amenities of first class travel.
But once we understand the zero-point concept a little better, we can also understand the allegory of the folded paper more clearly as well. Again, let’s quote from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh’s recently published book, “Lectures on Torah and Modern Physics” (pp. 35-36)
There is a famous saying of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidic movement, that “No matter what the innovation of any of the great Rabbis (and in his time there were very great sages), I can contradict it.” This is truly a remarkable statement. What was the Ba’al Shem Tov trying to say by this? Clearly, he was not trying to make himself out to be the smartest of all the sages. What does it mean that he can find a loophole in any innovation in Torah, or in any line of reasoning for that matter?
The Ba’al Shem Tov himself explained his meaning. What he meant is that every theory that is proposed by any Torah authority is a thought experiment in the realm of a particular world. But, in the middle-most point of that reality, there lies an essential nothingness. There is only one great soul—called the “[Moses] of the generation”—that is in tune with this zero-point that lies in the middle of every theory, and the Ba’al Shem Tov was in tune with that zero-point.
What is the purpose of the central point of nothingness? The points of nothingness in each World, at each level of consciousness, are connected to one another. Together, all the zero-points through all the worlds are like a tube, or pillar, through which the person who is in tune with them can ascend and descend through all the Worlds. Now this is a very deep and important realization for science in general.
Elevators into Space
There are scientists and engineers now that are trying to construct an elevator to the moon. What we have now explained is that the duality between King David and Moses allows us to both build these elevators, and travel through them. While the actual tower is constructed through our folding process, the shaft is the zero or dimensionless point in the middle.
Telepathy and Teleportation
What are we left with if we take away the folded piece of paper or cell phone display? We now have the basis for two important futuristic modes of communication: telepathy and teleportation.
The King David approach to communication is like a telepathic experience. Here I am on one side of the world, and there you are on the other. If I diminish myself enough, becoming the size of a “cell,” then an invisible tower is created that can carry this message across thousands of miles.
Moses, on the other hand, is actually traveling through the zero-point or “shaft” of this tower. In an instant, he could be found at the opposite side of the world, or in another dimension altogether.
(Photo credit: screenshot of the TED video: How folding paper can get you to the moon)
This post originally appeared on Community of Readers, republished with permission.