This is no Halloween prank: Massachusetts teens have officially broken the world toilet-paper-folding record. Students from the St. Mark's School in Southborough completed 13 folds and 8,192 layers, beating a previous high school student's record of 12 folds in 2002. The class was guided by their mathematics teacher James Tanton, who has waited seven years for a class to finally break the record.
The question is, how did they do it? According to BostInno.com, the students taped 64 layers of toilet paper the into a a sixth fold. They then mimicked those layers and folded the stack. The end result was 8,192 layers thick, 1.5 meters wide and 76 centimeters high.
The New Scientist detailed the mathematical process here:
Based on the thickness of a sheet of paper, a formula can be used to calculate the minimum length needed to fold it a given number of times. Paper roughly doubles in size with each fold and the sides become more rounded, making it harder and harder to bend. Wrinkles also have a significant impact, making the formula difficult to follow in practice. In addition, no single roll is long enough to fold thirteen times, requiring the group to tape together numerous rolls of industrial toilet paper 1.2 kilometers long.
And according to Wired.com, with 0.08mm-thick toilet paper, if you could get a long-enough piece, it would be possible to reach the Moon with around 42 toilet paper folds. A new goal for Mr. Tanton's next class, perhaps?