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September 7, 2023

How Many Times Can You Fold a Piece of Paper?

how many times can you fold a piece of paper

Playground myth has it that folding paper more than seven times is impossible, yet Mythbusters found they could go up to eleven folds! Watch the clip below to find out what happened when they tried it themselves!

There are many things we perceive to be impossible -- yet there are always those willing to push boundaries and test limits. One such barrier was long believed to be impossible -- folding paper more than seven times before its thickness became too thick for further folding; but US teenager Britney Gallivan managed to break this limit in 2002 by folding a sheet 4,000 feet (1,219 meters; over three-quarters of a mile or over a kilometer long) long 12 times - and even wrote equations to calculate how often a particular piece could be folded both in single and multiple directions!

Imagine it and do it: all it takes is the right piece of paper and patience during the creative process.

Math behind folding paper can be relatively straightforward: as you fold, its thickness increases exponentially, leading to further folding until at some point it becomes too thin for further folding. Furthermore, there's only so many folds you can do at one time before it begins ripping apart due to being pulled apart by being folded again and again.

However, the seven-fold rule does not always hold. In reality, how often one can fold paper depends on its size, thickness and the amount of pressure applied when folding.

Fold a sheet of regular A4 printer paper seven times and it becomes as thick as a notebook; fold again seven times, and it becomes thick enough to equal 10 sheets of A4 paper! And continue doing this up to 103 folds: the thickness will surpass that of our entire universe at 93 billion light years across!

The Mythbusters team were successful in debunking this myth in 2011 by using an airplane hangar full of paper and hydraulic press to demonstrate folding it eleven times without it tearing and ripping - proof that folding more than seven times is possible, although you will require using much more paper and applying greater pressure than was ever imagined! For more on this and related myths regarding paper use, watch this video demonstration by Mythbusters below.